In the battle between Amazon and book publisher Hachette, another retailing giant is finding a way to profit.
Walmart (WMT) says its book sales have jumped 70 percent since the dispute erupted between Amazon.com (AMZN) and Hachette over contract terms. With the standoff, Amazon has pulled pre-order buttons for soon-to-be-released books by best-selling authors such as J.K. Rowling and Michael Connelly.
The irony of the situation may be that some writers and critics have accused Amazon of behaving like Walmart, using the giant retailer's name as a by-word for pinching pennies from suppliers. Details of the negotiations between Hachette and Amazon aren't known, although the online retailer has argued that its negotiations are "on behalf of customers." It's thought that Amazon is seeking deep discounts on Hachette's ebooks, The New York Times reports.
In the meantime, Walmart is offering to fill readers' empty carts. Its site is promoting discounted books from the likes of James Patterson, David Baldacci and late-night host Chelsea Handler, all Hachette authors. At the top of Walmart's list is "The Silkworm," the yet-to-be-released crime novel by Rowling, written under her pseudonym Robert Galbraith, which is available for pre-order at $16.80.
On Amazon, the book is listed as "currently unavailable." In a statement last week, Amazon said it's "not optimistic that this will be resolved soon," and suggested customers search for unavailable titles elsewhere.
That advice is apparently being taken to heart, with some customers turning to alternatives such as Walmart.
"We're committed to making it easy for our customers to have access to a broad assortment of the products they want, at the low prices they want -- including copies of their favorite books that they might not be able to get elsewhere," Walmart said in an emailed statement.