Amazon does not like to talk. And Amazon especially does not like to talk to the press—when the company felt it had to address its dispute with Hachette in late-May it avoided the media completely, and instead released an odd, condescending statement on its Kindle forum. In every report about its ongoing negotiations with Hachette you could expect to find one, beautiful sentence: “An Amazon spokesman declined to comment.”
That changed late Tuesday, when an Amazon representative—Russ Grandinetti, Amazon’s senior vice president of Kindle content—did comment, to the Wall Street Journal’s Jeffrey Trachtenberg. The timing was, perhaps, deliberate—Trachtenberg’s piece went up shortly before “Amazon: Business as Usual?” a panel discussion hosted by The New York Public Library began. That panel discussion featured a number of outspoken Amazon critics, including James Patterson, Bob Kohn, and Tim Wu. Amazon was clearly paying attention: it paid to fly self-publishing blogger and pro-Amazon zealot David Vandagriff to New York City to participate. (That Amazon finds Vandagriff, who does little to hide his disgust with “traditional publishing” on his blog, to be an appropriate spokesperson for the company’s aims is interesting, though it’s possible that they merely wanted to counter-balance the other panelists’ anti-Amazon views. Fight fire with fire: the Amazon way.) Once again, Amazon found the media narrative slipping away, and it decided to fight back.