Are Amazon editors really that independent?
July 3, 2014 | 4:25 pm
As Amazon finally steps up its own defense in the ongoing spat with Hachette to the tune of well-orchestrated background noise, one of the odder appearances to come out is a piece in Digital Book World declaring “Amazon Editors Independent, Above Hachette-Amazon Fray.” States the article, “Editors at Amazon who make decisions about the retailer’s ‘best books’ and featured picks work independently of the team negotiating with publisher Hachette over a new agreement between the firms.”
It then goes on to cite Amazon’s “two lists of featured books meant to entice readers to buy,” the Amazon’s Best Books of 2014 (So Far) and ‘best books of the month list’ for July. As DBW points out, and others have picked up on as well, “these lists include Hachette titles.” I would be really surprised if this wasn’t the case, as Amazon would be fueling its staunchest critics if it publicly broke down the Chinese walls between editorial policy and partner negotiations, but it’s very weird that it should be emphasized this way.
“An Amazon spokesperson has confirmed to Digital Book World that indeed these editors do work completely independently and just choose books they love and think readers would, too,” concludes the DBW article.
Perhaps this is all a come-on for DBW‘s Digital Book World 2015 conference, “where head of Kindle Russ Grandinetti will be interviewed by Mike Shatzkin and Michael Cader,” but it still arouses my suspicions and makes me wonder what is going on. I’m (mostly) on Amazon’s side in the faceoff with Hachette, but at the very least, some others in the same camp are picking some very funny lines of defense.