My open letter to Michael Pietsch of Hachette and Little, Brown
I like Hachette. I like your titles. And I think that the demonstrated price elasticity of e-books means it's worth a healthy conversation with Amazon to see how publishers, authors and readers could all benefit from lower prices for them.
One of my friends (he is the publicist for celebrity books at another publisher) said about his company that "at this point I'm working for a non-profit."
Profits are something that companies like Amazon can turn on like a faucet- do we turn the expansion tap? Or the profitability tap? Little bit of both?
US publishers are experiencing an entirely different set of circumstances (from those Amazon is experiencing) and I imagine it must be a huge challenge to head up a company in an industry whose margins are constantly squeezed.
Still, it seems to me that you have the opportunity to come out out of negotiations with Amazon as the hero of the reading public and of mainstream and independent authors everywhere.
Perhaps you're aware of the recent outcry from customers and employees of the Market Basket in New England. They're protesting under-communication and the decisions of new management, and I'm happy to see that the voices of those stakeholders are making an impact.
Please don't let a Market Basket-style PR fiasco happen to you- it's really a waste of momentum and market gravity and consumer goodwill.
What is possible for Hachette? What is possible for the book industry? Step up and be a leader for innovative approaches to the challenge at hand. Turning around the publishing industry will certainly make for a good book.