Amazon and Warner Bros. appear to have resolved a pricing dispute that temporarily led the online retailer to halt disc preorders for Warner's latest movies. Or at the very least, they're getting much closer to patching things up. As evidence of that, customers can once again reserve copies of Transcendence and other films scheduled to arrive on Blu-ray and DVD in the coming weeks. In May, Amazon quietly cut off the option to preorder popular titles like The Lego Movie, an aggressive negotiating tactic that was seen by many as crossing the line.
The company has been trying to hammer out more favorable financial terms both with media suppliers like Warner Bros., and also major book publishers. Amazon and Hachette have remained entrenched on opposite sides of their very public war for over a month now, and neither side seems willing to budge. In late May, Amazon confirmed that it's been ordering far less inventory from Hachette, and preorders for the publisher's books have been unavailable for weeks. Amazon likely hopes these decisions will eventually force Hachette's hand and bring about a better deal that ensures the retailer a healthy cut of ebook sales.
"Negotiating with suppliers for equitable terms and making stocking and assortment decisions based on those terms is one of a bookseller's, or any retailer's, most important jobs," Amazon said last month. But critics aren't buying the "other stores do it too" reasoning, and they've blasted Amazon — the world's leading bookseller — for leaning on its unmatched market position and playing hardball with suppliers. Amazon insists it has every right to do so, and that it's ultimately working to keep "service and value high for customers." The strategy appears to have paid off in the case of Warner Bros., though we're unlikely to learn the specifics of any new agreement between the companies.