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Books-A-Million looks to exploit Amazon's publishing dispute

May 27, 2014

Looking to take advantage of the increasingly public dispute between Amazon and Hachette Book Group, Books-A-Million has launched a number of promotions and media callouts in an attempt to exploit the fallout.

As reported, as part of its contentious e-book pricing negotiations, Amazon since early May has been delaying shipments of many of Hachette's popular books from two to five weeks, reducing discounts that often drive sales and suggesting alternatives for popular Hachette titles.

Late last week, another round of headlines came with reports Amazon was removing pre-order buttons from some Hachette titles and listing the books as "currently unavailable." It was also said to be delisting product pages for some Hachette books.

In a press release dated May 12, Books-A-Million assured readers that the company has Hachette titles ready to ship. Terrance Finley, president and CEO, said, "Books-A-Million values our partnership with Hachette Book Group and has been selling their books throughout our history, and we will continue to do so, both online at www.booksamillion.com and in our more than 258 retail locations."

In a press release three days later, Books-A-Million indicated that six out of its top 10 most popular titles belonged to Hachette. It also promised savings up to 40 percent off Hachette's most recent release. Said Mary Gallagher, Books-A-Million's SVP of merchandising, "I'm delighted our customers have responded so positively to our efforts to keep Hachette titles readily available at great prices."

With Amazon's new move to prevent pre-orders, Books-A-Million's website now includes a banner ad promoting "30 percent off Hachette pre-orders."

More subtly, Barnes & Noble's website features a banner ad under the headline "New Releases" that features only Hachette authors. Its front page also features many Hachette titles and its Featured Author is James Patterson, an outspoken critic of Amazon.

On a smaller scale, Chicago's Unabridged bookstore tweeted in mid-May, "We sell Hachette titles! No line, no waiting, as they say at the supermarket."

The dispute is being played out in a largely one-sided argument in the media since Amazon, known for being reticent about talking to the media, has declined to comment.

Some authors have also taken to social media to encourage customers to pre-order through Barnes & Noble or independent booksellers.

FINANCIALS:     [NASDAQ:AMZN] [ NASDAQ:BAMM]

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