Had problems pre-ordering Blu-rays or DVDs from Amazon lately? Perhaps you wanted to book a copy of blockbuster hit ‘The Lego Movie‘ (scheduled for release next week) but were stymied with a “Sign up to be notified when this item becomes available” notice? This all stems back to a petty squabble between Amazon and Warner Brothers, and there’s no end in sight.
I’m sure you’ve heard by now about the contract dispute Amazon is having with Hachette Press, which has resulted in the retailer blocking or delaying customer orders for Hachette books. Less widely publicized – but more to our interests here – the same thing is happening between Amazon and Warner Bros. What this means for Blu-ray and DVD fans is that Amazon has completely shut down all pre-orders for titles from Warner and all sub-labels it distributes (including HBO, BBC, New Line, etc.), and will not feature them in browsing lists of upcoming movies. This is intended as a strong-arm tactic to force Warner to sell product to Amazon for lower wholesale prices. At least for the time being, Warner is holding its ground and will not lower prices.
If Amazon eventually got its way, would that mean lower retail prices for Amazon shoppers? I tend to doubt it. Most likely, retail prices will remain the same, but Amazon can claim a higher profit margin per unit sold. Customers will probably see no difference or benefit to the outcome of this dispute.
Fortunately, however, Amazon has been opening Warner titles for sale once they reach street date. You should be able to order ‘The Lego Movie’ from Amazon next Tuesday. Unlike the Hachette situation, Amazon has not (yet) taken to delaying shipment of Warner movies once ordered, though that may happen in the future.
Until this gets resolved, customers will not be able to lock in lower pre-order prices for Warner movies. Amazon Prime subscribers will also lose the benefit of pre-orders shipping early in order to arrive on street date.
Will this inconvenience drive you away from Amazon, to shop for Blu-rays at other retailers?
[Source: New York Times.]