MUSINGS OF A STORY MERCHANT

Monday, June 2, 2014

Hachette Chief Leads Book Publishers in Amazon Fight


As a young book editor at Little, Brown & Company in 1992, Michael Pietsch paid $80,000 — $45,000 more than the next-highest bidder — for a postmodern novel by a little-known writer named David Foster Wallace.

He spent years urging Mr. Wallace to cut hundreds of pages from the sprawling manuscript and impose at least some structure on the disparate plot strands. The book, “Infinite Jest,” was finally published in 1996 and became an instant literary sensation.

Mr. Pietsch is now chief executive of Little, Brown’s parent company, the Hachette Book Group, and is engaged in a very different sort of battle — not with a fragile author, but with one of the most powerful corporations in the United States: Amazon.


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