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Colbert assails Amazon over delayed book shipments


By Hillel Italie

NEW YORK (AP) - On one side of a major publishing feud is Amazon.com, the industry's biggest book seller.

On the other side is a leading New York publisher few readers have heard of, Hachette Book Group, and some Hachette authors virtually all readers have heard of: J.K. Rowling, James Patterson, Malcolm Gladwell and, most recently, Stephen Colbert.

Saying that he's not just mad at Amazon, but "mad prime," Colbert assailed the online retailer on his Comedy Central program Wednesday night. Amazon is in a contract dispute with Hachette Book Group and has been delaying shipments for some Hachette books, including for Colbert's "America Again," and removing the pre-order option for Rowling's "The Silkworm" (written under her pen name Robert Galbraith) and other upcoming works. Colbert twice flipped his middle finger at Amazon during the show and brought on Sherman Alexie, a Hachette author who recommended a debut novel that Amazon currently will not sell: Edan Lepucki's "California."

Colbert, anxious to prove that he could "sell more books than Amazon," urged viewers to buy "California" from Powell's Books in Portland, Oregon, one of the country's leading independent booksellers. He also unveiled a sticker, "I didn't buy it from Amazon," that could be downloaded from his website thecolbertreport.cc.com.

As of Thursday afternoon, "California" was No. 1 on www.powellsbooks.com . The book will be published in July.

"I feel extremely grateful to Sherman Alexie for going to bat for me and for so many other authors," Lepucki told The Associated Press on Thursday, adding that she believed Colbert had broadened the discussion beyond the publishing industry.

"I had friends who emailed me and said, 'Hey, I wanted to get your book on Amazon and it was unavailable.' They had no idea about the dispute, so it's great that it's opened up to people who didn't know otherwise."

Amazon and Hachette are reportedly negotiating terms for e-book sales, which publishers say comprise around 30 percent of the overall market. Patterson has warned that Amazon wants on a "monopoly" of the book business, while John Green, published by Penguin Random House, told The Associated Press earlier this week that he worried Amazon "would bully publishers into eventual nonexistence."

The negotiations follow a 2012 government lawsuit against Hachette and four other publishers, alleging that they conspired with Apple to fix e-book prices. The publishers all settled out of court and a federal judge ruled against Apple last year. Before the lawsuit, Hachette and others had sold e-books on Amazon and other retailers through an "agency" system that allowed publishers to set the price.

Amazon has generally declined to respond beyond a statement on its website saying that a resolution was unlikely to happen soon and recommending that customers look elsewhere for affected books. In a tweet Wednesday, Rowling reminded fans that there were "lots of ways" to buy "The Silkworm," as "Amazon kindly suggest(s).

Other retailers have been trying to benefit from the standoff. Walmart.com announced Thursday that overall book sales increased 70 percent last week after it offered a 40 percent discount on Hachette books, with top sellers including "The Silkworm" and T.D. Jakes' "Instinct."

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bullwinkle94a June 05 2014 at 7:20 PM

Amazon is doing a public service by delaying his books. I think I will go right over there and buy something.

Flag Reply +40 rate up
6 replies
johnnysul64 June 05 2014 at 7:53 PM

I was not a regular customer of Amazon. I sure am now.........

Flag Reply +34 rate up
1 reply
d1anaw johnnysul64 June 05 2014 at 8:44 PM

I love it. hahahahaha

Flag Reply +13 rate up
bigred8690 June 05 2014 at 7:51 PM

If someone gave me a Colbert book I wouldn't even use it as a doorstop.

Flag Reply +32 rate up
4 replies
jeljim June 05 2014 at 9:17 PM

I not only will continue to buy from Amazon, in fact I'll increase my business with them !

Flag Reply +24 rate up
4 replies
d1anaw June 05 2014 at 8:44 PM

Take your boycott and shove it. I just got my amazon order yesterday and I'll continue to order again and again and again. I don't order books from them because I use nook. But I'll order almost anything else. So stick it.

Flag Reply +21 rate up
1 reply
fretwerk d1anaw June 06 2014 at 12:28 AM

Blow me.

Flag Reply +2 rate up
3 replies
mkwrblwsk June 05 2014 at 7:11 PM

You go Steven!!!

Flag Reply +15 rate up
1 reply
polkartist2 mkwrblwsk June 05 2014 at 7:58 PM

What's the deal with Stephen Colbert's right ear?

Flag Reply +5 rate up
2 replies
Meh... polkartist2 June 06 2014 at 10:03 AM

It's smarter than his left ear.

Flag +1 rate up
JEFFERSODA polkartist2 June 06 2014 at 5:03 PM

As a boy, he had a tumor.

Flag 0 rate up
bentbouy1 June 05 2014 at 8:00 PM

I love amazon so will go and order something

Flag Reply +14 rate up
2 replies
fretwerk bentbouy1 June 06 2014 at 12:27 AM

This guy is smarter than everyone you know put together. Of course you can't handle that.

Flag Reply +10 rate up
5 replies
d1anaw bentbouy1 June 06 2014 at 11:16 PM

Sounds as if fretwerk is in love.

Flag Reply 0 rate up
michells27 June 05 2014 at 8:27 PM

Many, many haters here. If you don't like Colbert, don't read the article. sheesh.

Flag Reply +12 rate up
5 replies
jfkrfkrod June 05 2014 at 7:51 PM

Stephen Stephen Stephen Stephen - THE saterist of our times ! ''THINK'' it's Patriotic !

Flag Reply +9 rate up
2 replies
polkartist2 jfkrfkrod June 05 2014 at 7:59 PM

I "THINK" you are misguided.

Flag Reply +3 rate up
3 replies
Susanctuary78 jfkrfkrod June 06 2014 at 6:36 AM

I "think" it's spelled "satirist,"

Flag Reply +3 rate up
nbxfan June 06 2014 at 2:46 AM

I have a prime account with Amazon & don't have real issue with them. I mostly like streaming the free movies and TV shows. Reading the comments I find them odd. As in that no one seems to take issue that a large company using bullying tactics in their business. I mean, Amazon can do what they want and so can Colbert... but some people saying they'll buy twice as much now.... I find incredibly amusing. Hopefully, in the future Amazon does not employ this tactic to something you will care about. Personally, when it comes to books I just buy the cheapest in good condition. I still like a physical book. Can't wait to see the new rumored Amazon 3D phone. Wonder if Apple will boycott? LOL.

Flag Reply +3 rate up
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