Making Sense of Amazon’s Stance as Hachette Standoff Continues

When it comes to Amazon’s explanation for why it’s negotiating with Hachette, interpretations vary.

According to Nate Hoffelder of The Digital Reader, the comments offered by Russ Grandinetti, Senior VP of Kindle, to the Wall Street Journal yesterday were little more than a recap of Amazon’s earlier stated goals: keeping ebook prices low for the benefit of customers.

While Hoffelder is skeptical that’s the whole story (many believe co-op fees are also at issue), he says it’s hardly news. “I too would like to know what Amazon really thinks and their true motives,” he writes, “but at this point we still don’t really know what that is.”

Related: See Grandinetti speak at Digital Book World 2015

Over at Publishers Lunch, Michael Cader disagrees. In his view, Grandinetti’s remarks amounted to a revision “of the core principle that has guided Amazon and its founder Jeff Bezos for the past 20 years.”

Curtailing customer’s accustomed privileges, at least when it comes to some Hachette titles–like removing pre-order buttons from top titles like J. K. Rowling’s The Silkworm–has already led some to call into question Amazon’s adherence to its customer-first mentality.

In telling the WSJ that Amazon is prepared to risk some harm to its reputation, Grandinetti, as Cader sees it, has confirmed that there’s now an important qualification to the retailer’s central policy. By its own account, he writes, “Amazon now has insight into the difference between consumers’ long-term interests and their immediate ones, and has empowered itself to put the former above the latter.”

Whether drawing that distinction constitutes a true shift in Amazon’s approach is up for debate, as is the question of whether Grandinetti’s remarks shed any new light on it. Still, the fact that it’s being interpreted differently by industry experts underscores how much could potentially be at stake in the ongoing dispute.

Whatever the outcome, it’s likely to have major repercussions throughout the publishing ecosystem. Digital Book World is sitting down with David Streitfeld, the New York Times reporter who first broke the story of the Amazon-Hachette conflict, and Laura Hazard Owen, who covers it for Gigaom, for a free webcast on July 9th to discuss what those consequences might be and ways publishers and authors can prepare. Here’s how to register.

Learn more: Amazon, Hachette and the Future of Publishing

4 thoughts on “Making Sense of Amazon’s Stance as Hachette Standoff Continues

  1. Theresa M. Moore

    Any of Grandinetti’s remarks are simply gobbledygook for “we’re not going to tell you anything, so shut up and go away.” Amazon has a lot to answer for, and it is never forthcoming with any kind of data which we can analyze in practical or rational terms. Ask Bezos if he is customer-centric when he hires an all Indian phone center and gives them power of attorney in making decisions regarding customer and vendor accounts which are both draconian and NOT customer-centric. Amazon is strutting around like a bully in the schoolyard, when all it is doing is harm to its business reputation. He says, “Amazon is not happening to them, the future is happening to them.” Well, what what happens to Amazon when the future hits it square in the face.

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  2. Suzie Quint

    “I too would like to know what Amazon really thinks and their true motives,” he writes, “but at this point we still don’t really know what that is.”

    Actually, Amazon’s been very forthcoming about this. Their motive is to give their customer’s the best deal possible. I know that’s a hard concept for some people to wrap their heads around.

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  3. Barbara Everett Heintz

    Amazon’s the giant in the book world out to make bank rolls of money from both authors and readers. Every bee buzzing around the Amazon honeycomb is, and has the right to be a bee from a different colony endeavoring to taste the honey dripping from the comb and out to make rolls of money off the writers and readers. The least served of the pecking order are writers who pay to publish, pay to market, and who depend of producers and directors, and with gratitude, investors–Willing to believe a well told American mixed genre’ and intelligent book laced in humor, horror of real life, and of historical significance may still have appeal to masses of film goers. \Pinkhoneysuckle,\ published by Amazon, embraced at a New York Producer’s meeting, and made a Movie Option by producer’s dedicated to preserving that our most loved films remain the treasured human experience. Amazon at its best encouraged us as writers fearing traditional publishing. I cannot fail to give credit that, \Pinkhoneysuckle,\ as Amazon published and a book to movie–relying on the generosity of those beyond the main stream who lead me in to the complex world of being noticed for movie making. Barbara Everett Heintz, Author

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  4. Barbara Everett Heintz

    Early Amazon, meaning, late 2011 led me to finishing my book, \Pinkhoneysuckle,\ and a group of Producers in New York City 2013 would choose my award winning book to become a movie option. I do not agree with Amazon’s decision to quadruple its publishing capacity, but we still have to accept that book publishing is now rife with disingenuous publishers, and we get what we purchase via Amazon. My book was chosen as a Movie Option and remains so, and the people for whom I will owe greatest thanks are the producers, the directors, and those who believed a great American Story which has some kinship to, \Grapes of Wrath,\ although one segment of the USA has not been seen worthy to stop the ridicule from mid-century–Much less to tell the story of my tragic, \White Trash,\ background.//I feel that, \Pinkhoneysuckle,\ goes far beyond my life. Chosen at a New York City Producer’s meeting, I feel a debt of gratitude to independent producers who have said, \No,\ to the giants with respect to investors who do not wish for their money to go in to films geared to the smallest child and geared to the 16 year old with money in their pocket. Many Thanks, Barbara Everett Heintz

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