Amazon Cuts Shipping Time for J.K. Rowling Book Amid Dispute

Jun 20, 2014 10:23 am ET

(Updates with Apple’s e-books promotion in fourth paragraph.)

June 20 (Bloomberg) -- Amazon.com Inc., still in a dispute with publisher Hachette Book Group over e-book prices, made an exception by accepting orders and reducing shipping times for a new book by author J.K. Rowling.

“The Silkworm,” written under Rowling’s pseudonym Robert Galbraith, is available for shipping, though it may require an extra one to two days to process, according to Amazon’s site. An e-book edition can be immediately downloaded. Amazon has been putting Hachette books on sale when they become available in stores, as “The Silkworm” did yesterday, said Sophie Cottrell, a spokeswoman for the publisher.

Hachette hasn’t reached a deal with Amazon, and about 5,000 of the publisher’s titles continue to show out-of-stock messages, Cottrell said. Amazon is seeking a bigger cut of the retail price of a title so it can continue discounting e-books and boost margins, people with knowledge of the matter said this month.

Other retailers have taken advantage of the dispute. Apple Inc. started promoting Rowling’s book and other Hachette titles on its iTunes store with discounts earlier this week.

The Amazon listing for James Patterson’s latest Alex Cross book says it usually ships within two to five weeks, and Stephen Colbert’s “America Again” ships in three to five weeks.

“The book is available because it went on sale yesterday,” said Sarah Gelman, a spokeswoman at Seattle-based Amazon, in an e-mail.

--With assistance from Jing Cao in New York.