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Amazon Tightens The Squeeze On Hachette

"What we are seeing is a classic case of muscle-flexing."

[Image: Flickr user Magic Madzik]

Amazon's standoff with Hachette escalated this week as the world's largest online bookseller stands accused of making it harder to buy books from Hachette imprints. The New York Times reports that Amazon is allegedly resorting to strong-arm tactics to negotiate a better profit-sharing deal, as Wall Street hounds Bezos & Co. to institute better margins.

One example: On Thursday evening, Amazon suddenly made J.K. Rowling's new mystery novel (written under her pen name Robert Galbraith) "unavailable." At the time of writing this, only the audiobook version is available to purchase. Other authors are getting similar treatment:

"What we are seeing is a classic case of muscle-flexing," Andrew Rhomberg, founder of Jellybooks, an e-book discovery site, tells the Times. "Kind of like Vladimir Putin mobilizing his troops along the Ukrainian border."

If true, it wouldn't be the first time Amazon exercised its sway over book publishers. In 2010, during a similar negotiating spat with Macmillan over its e-book prices, Amazon briefly removed the "buy" button from all of the publisher's books.