HarperCollins Is Taking Aim At Amazon As Contract Lapses

Publisher HarperCollins is trying to go its own way as its contract with Amazon lapses this year. The company, which received the same renewal contract as the other big publishers, namely Simon & Schuster, Hachette, and Macmillan, seems to be holding off in order to both try its hand at online book sales and flex a bit of muscle against the Bezos book empire.

HC has been fairly successful in sales of its C.S. Lewis Narnia titles online and last July announced a move to sell most of its digital inventory on its own website.

“We are excited to be able to offer an e-commerce solution to our authors, ensuring their books are always available to their fans,” said chief digital officer Chantal Restivo-Alessi in July 2014. At the time Restivo-Alessi wanted to open as many avenues for the consumer as possible.

But Amazon still dwarfs the publisher’s own online efforts. The Seattle-based company controls 95 percent of the ebook market in the UK although paper books are still hanging in there and the recent Hachette book fight spooked both publishers and, one presumes, Amazon.

In short, the technology to sell books online is getting easier and easier to implement as barriers fall. While the Kindle is an amazing tool, publishers and readers are more willing to use their own apps to swipe through ebooks, especially on iPads and phones. It’s a bold strategy for the big publishers to poke Amazon, though, and it rarely pays off.