A top executive for Amazon’s e-book business is defending the company’s tactics in its high-profile dispute with publisher Hachette, saying that it’s “acting in the long-term interest of our customers.”
“This discussion is all about e-book pricing,” said Russ Grandinetti, Amazon’s senior vice president of Kindle content, in an interview with the Wall Street Journal. “The terms under which we trade will determine how good the prices are that we can offer consumers.”
In the midst of the contract standoff, Amazon has been selling Hachette titles with long shipping delays, and at lower discounts than other booksellers offer, drawing criticism from Hachette authors including Stephen Colbert. Amazon has also been declining to take pre-orders for Hachette titles.
In the Wall Street Journal interview, Amazon’s Grandinetti compared the current dispute to Amazon’s standoff with Macmillan in 2010, in which Amazon stopped seling Macmillan books for a short time when the publisher signaled its intention to shift to the “agency” pricing model that allowed publishers to set the price of their e-books. That “agency” approach was ultimately overturned by a federal court.
“We were fighting for what we thought was right for consumers, and the same is true here,” said Grandinetti in the WSJ interview.
In the meantime, the company is weathering a public-relations storm. Amazon CEO Jeff Bezos likes to say that the company is “willing to be misunderstood for long periods of time,” and from Amazon’s perspective, this appears to be a case in point.