Well, this is bad news for book lovers. Amazon and the publisher Hachette are on the precipice of all out war. Negotiations have broken down between them and Amazon has removed the ability to buy and pre-order Hachette books on the site.
Apparently, this is Amazon throwing it's weight around as contract negotiations about price and availability have gone south. First, Amazon made obscene waits for extremely popular titles. Ancillary Justice by Ann Leckie, which has won the Nebula and many other awards and may even win the Hugo, has a current ship time of "2 to 5 weeks". James S.A. Corey's latest Expanse novel is completely unavailable to pre-order despite being hotly anticipated. All his other books have the dreaded "2 to 5 weeks" ship times. You the consumer are the collateral damage since Amazon has decided to take their ball and go home.
Basically, this is incredibly bad news. Amazon has been known to pull this bullshit every so often when it doesn't get it's way. I'm disappointed they've chosen to take this direction when Hachette wouldn't kowtow to them. Amazon knows it's the only game in town for publishers, since they've effectively killed off much of their competition. They beat Barnes & Noble on price, Borders is long gone (RIP) and many towns don't have local indie bookstores.
Still, I hate being caught up in this bullshit. I'm usually a big fan of Amazon. They swiftly answer emails when I have a problem, I love my Amazon Prime and I have a Kindle. I get a box from Amazon weekly. This power play shows them to be nothing but a money-grabbing asshole of a company that is trying to squeeze a few more pennies out of a publisher and harming us, their customers, in the process. This is unacceptable. These are the kind of tricks that cable companies play when they want more money out of a channel. "Oh, you want to watch the Walking Dead premier on AMC? Too bad, they didn't pay us more money so we've dropped the channel". I mean, come the hell on. When you're taking your cues from the fucking cable companies you know you're in the wrong.
Amazon is basically looming over the other publishers at this point, standing over the prone body of Hachette with broken kneecaps, and going "what a nice set of books you got here. It'd be a shame if somethin' happened to 'em...".
I'm considering letting my Amazon Prime subscription lapse and spending my book budget in friendlier places like indie bookstores online (Powell's comes to mind) and my local neighborhood B&N.