Grandinetti speaks out on Amazon/HBG dispute

Grandinetti speaks out on Amazon/HBG dispute

Senior Amazon executive Russ Grandinetti has defended the company over its trade dispute with Hachette Book Group in an interview with the Wall Street Journal, saying that the online retailer is simply fighting for better prices for its customers.

The defence coincided with a New York Public Library debate held last night (1st July), where author James Patterson and publisher Morgan Entrekin were among the participants discussing the so-called "danger level" posed by the online retailer.

It also coincided with news that European union leaders are meeting in Berlin today (2nd July) to discuss a joint strategy to tackle Amazon on pay and working conditions.

Russ Grandinetti, Amazon's senior vice president of Kindle content, indicated to the WSJ that the retailer was willing to suffer some damage to its reputation in the Hachette dispute in order to do what is "in the long-term interest of our customers", saying: "The terms under which we trade will determine how good the prices are that we can offer consumers."

Grandinetti also said the company has been down this road before, noting that in early 2010, it briefly stopped selling books published by Macmillan while it opposed the publisher's proposed switch to agency pricing. Amazon didn't want agency pricing, because it prevented it from discounting titles. "We were fighting for what we thought was right for consumers, and the same is true here," Grandinetti said. He also took issue with the notion that Amazon is a goliath battling small players, saying that almost all of the major publishers are "part of much larger media conglomerates."

HBG declined to comment for the WSJ article.

Meanwhile union leaders from Britain, France and Germany will meet in Berlin today (2nd July) to discuss a strategy for engaging with the retailer on job security, working conditions and low pay.

According to a Guardian report, the three unions are set to explore campaign strategies including efforts to draw links between Amazon's European tax arrangements and the group's approach to low-wage workers.

There have been recent strikes at some Amazon warehouses in France, and earlier this year in Germany; in Britain the GMB is building membership at Amazon, asking for "fair and unfettered" access to warehouse sites to discuss membership with staff, the newspaper reported.

In the UK, anti-Amazon campaign group Amazon Anonymous has been campaigning for the company to pay UK warehouse workers the Living Wage.