Amazon pushes back on the bully narrative in its Hachette dispute

Amazon is looking out for the best interest of its customers in its battle with the publisher Hachette, an Amazon executive told the Wall Street Journal.

In its three-month battle with Hachette over the price of e-books sold, Amazon has come across at times as the bully. As part of its negotiating tactics, Amazon has curtailed its sales of Hachette titles with affected authors complaining. The comedian Stephen Colbert,  a Hachette author as well, jumped into the fray imploring people to stop shopping on Amazon, as Patrick May wrote here.

The fight, as Steve Johnson wrote in the Mercury News, is an indication of the growth and importance of the e-book market.

Russ Grandinetti, Amazon’s senior vice president of Kindle content, told the Journal that it was not the big bully fighting the underdog publisher. In fact, the publishers, he pointed out, are owned by media conglomerates.

What Amazon is fighting for, he said, were good e-book prices for its customers:

 This discussion is all about e-book pricing. The terms under which we trade will determine how good the prices are that we can offer consumers.

The battle may be hard to resolve because of its high-stakes, the Journal quotes an anonymous industry executive as saying.

“Hachette would have come to terms if they felt that what Amazon was seeking was manageable,” said this person. As for Amazon, “If they walk away without a victory of some kind, they’ll get punished on Wall Street.”

Above: Amazon CEO Jeff Bezos. (AP Photo/Reed Saxon)


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