Amazon exec on Hachette dispute: “It’s all about ebook pricing”

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As Amazon and Hachette’s contract dispute wears on, Amazon has had little to say publicly about it: The company released an unattributed statement on the Kindle forums at the end of May, but until now no executive from the company had commented. That changed Tuesday, when Russ Grandinetti, Amazon’s VP of Kindle content, gave a few quotes to the Wall Street Journal.

Amazon has been criticized for tactics like turning off pre-orders on upcoming Hachette titles. Grandinetti told the WSJ that Amazon is working “in the long-term interest of our customers.” He also seemingly confirmed reports that Amazon is demanding a larger commission on ebook sales, up from the 30 percent it currently receives: “This discussion is all about ebook pricing. The terms under which we trade will determine how good the prices are that we can offer consumers.” Grandinetti seems to be arguing that if Amazon gets a bigger payment on each ebook it sells, it will pass those savings on to consumers.

This also means lower payments for authors: If a publisher makes less money on each ebook sale and the price of the ebook doesn’t change, the author takes home less. The article didn’t touch on that, though.

Separately, the New York Public Library hosted a panel discussion on Hachette vs. Amazon on Tuesday night which you can watch here. Over at The Bookseller, Porter Anderson has a good writeup. One oddity: Amazon declined to send an executive to speak but, Anderson writes, “”recommended that contract attorney and blogger (The Passive Voice) David Vandagriff be there. Vandagriff explained that he doesn’t work for Amazon but that he was flown to New York  by the company to be on the panel.”

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