The book industry has long had an uneasy relationship with Amazon. Now the online retailer's latest tussle, with publisher Hachette, is raising fresh concerns about its power over the booming e-book business.

Amazon, which reportedly is in tough negotiations over the terms by which it sells Hachette's e-books, has blocked its customers from pre-ordering many titles from the Paris-based publisher, which experts say could severely hurt those books' chances of becoming bestsellers when they officially go on sale.

FILE - This Sept. 28, 2011 file photo shows the Amazon logo on display at a news conference in New York.
FILE - This Sept. 28, 2011 file photo shows the Amazon logo on display at a news conference in New York. (Mark Lennihan/AP Photo)

Neither company responded to this newspaper's requests for comment. But Amazon, whose market share in e-books reportedly has surged since federal prosecutors accused Apple and several publishers in 2012 of conspiring to fix e-book prices, appears to be flexing its muscle. And that irks others in the business, including some of Amazon's brick-and-mortar competitors, even though they could stand to gain sales from the Hachette dispute.

"What this really does for us is highlight what we've been complaining about for a long time about Amazon," said Amy Seaton, manager of Hicklebee's bookstore in San Jose. "It's these kinds of tactics that rankle all of us. They're not a team player and we're in a community that's used to helping each other out."

At the core of the dispute is how Amazon will offer Hachette e-books, a Hachette spokeswoman told The Wall Street Journal. Publishers set the price of e-books they sell to retailers, but the retailers can discount that price. Retailers usually get an approximately 30 percent cut of the publishers' price, so any discount reduces how much money the retailer gets.

Amazon is seeking a bigger cut in its negotiations with Hachette, an industry executive told the Journal.

Amazon's action -- which industry insiders regard as a ploy to pressure Hachette into accepting contract terms favorable to Amazon -- also has riled some famous writers.

Noting that his Hachette-published book "Those Who Wish Me Dead" is among those affected, best-selling author Michael Koryta blogged Friday, "as you can imagine, that is a devastating impact on a new release."

Another book caught up in the squabble is "The Skin Collector" by Jeffery Deaver, who complained in an online post that "Amazon has chosen to attempt to intimidate publisher, authors and readers alike."

And Anna Holmes, who edited the "Book of Jezebel," issued a tweet blasting the e-commerce colossus for what she termed "shameful behavior" and urging people to buy it at Barnes & Noble.

Amazon, long the nation's biggest seller of e-books as well as printed books sold online, has faced increasing competition from e-book seller Apple and some other retailers. But its business got a boost when the U.S. Justice Department leveled its price-fixing allegations.

Although Cupertino-based Apple pleaded not guilty and is fighting the charges, the publishers settled out of court and the case has greatly strengthened Amazon's retail position, according to book industry consultant Mike Shatzkin, CEO of Idea Logical.

"What it did was it put the hammer back in Amazon's hands," he said. That's partly because "they are bigger than anybody else" and can undercut others' prices. In addition, Shatzkin said, Amazon uses books to lure customers to its site, where it offers them numerous other products.

"You buy that book at Amazon and the next thing they do is sell you toilet paper, a computer, a winter coat," he said. "Apple can't do that. Nobody else can do that."

While people can still buy Hachette books at stores, among other places, Amazon's action is likely to make it harder for avid readers to obtain some of the latest, most sought-after titles. Those include Megan Abbott's "The Fever," Elin Hilderbrand's "The Matchmaker," Tom Rob Smith's "The Farm," Anne Rivers Siddons' "The Girls of August" and J.K. Rowlings "Silkworm," penned under the pseudonym Robert Galbraith, according to Publishers Lunch, an online news site that tracks the industry.

But it all depends on how long Hachette's dispute with Amazon lingers. In an email to authors, which Publishers Lunch obtained, Hachette's CEO said, "we are doing everything in our power to find a solution to this difficult situation, one that best serves our authors and their work, and that preserves our ability to survive and thrive as a strong and author-centric publishing company."

Contact Steve Johnson at 408-920-5043. Follow him at Twitter.com/steveatmercnews.