Amazon Criticized for Releasing New Book Earlier Than Scheduled

Category: Business


Unlocking Word Meanings

Read the following words/expressions found in today’s article.

  1. sequel / ˈsi kwəl / (n) – a continuation of a book, movie, or story

    My brother can’t wait for the sequel of the book he just finished reading.

  2. confidential / ˌkɒn fɪˈdɛn ʃəl / (adj) – kept completely secret

    We cannot share the information because it is strictly confidential.

  3. hype / haɪp / (n) – something that builds excitement in people

    The new smartphone’s hype made so many people wait in long lines just to buy a unit.

  4. blunder / ˈblʌn dər / (n) – a mistake caused by carelessness

    Writing the wrong delivery address is a common blunder among online retail businesses.

  5. sanction / ˈsæŋk ʃən / (v) – to punish someone for not following rules

    The manager will sanction employees who do not follow security procedures.


Read the text below.

Major online retailer Amazon has been accused of violating its business agreement with a major publisher and other book sellers.

Earlier, publisher Penguin Random House made book retailers sign an agreement to launch Margaret Atwood’s top-secret book, The Testaments, on the same release date. This book is the much-awaited sequel to The Handmaid’s Tale, one of Atwood’s bestselling novels. The publisher requested that details about the book be strictly confidential until its official release on September 10, 2019. Usually, such an agreement is made to create a hype around a book’s release, which may help increase publishers’ profits.

However, exactly a week before the official release date, Amazon released around 800 copies of The Testaments. Independent book retailers were enraged because the incident could significantly affect their sales.

Amazon apologized and claimed that there was a technical error in its system that caused the books to be accidentally delivered to the customers in advance. An Amazon representative further stated that the company values its relationship with authors, book agents, and publishers, and expressed regret for the trouble that the incident may have caused to fellow retailers.

Book retailers, however, are not convinced with Amazon’s explanation for its blunder. Some smaller retailers are frustrated as they think that it is unlikely for a big retail company like Amazon to face any consequences for disregarding the agreement. Normally, retailers who go against similar business agreements face punishment by not being sent their book shipments on time.

The angered retailers complained and said that Penguin Random House should sanction Amazon for violating the agreement. In response, the publisher said that the incident was just a mistake that has now been corrected.

Viewpoint Discussion

Enjoy a discussion with your tutor.

Discussion A

• In your opinion, is the apology issued by Amazon enough to make up for its mistake? Why or why not?
• After the incident, do you think the publisher should still allow Amazon to distribute top-secret books? Why or why not?

Discussion B

• Why is it important for companies to follow business agreements?
• In your opinion, what are some ways to ensure that a business agreement is being followed by all parties who signed it? Discuss.