We already mentioned that Donald Trump seems to have it in for Amazon and Jeff Bezos. But now it comes out that Bezos doesn’t seem too worried. In a seven-minute interview video taken at a Washington Post event, Bezos notes that our democracy, with the attendant capability to question our leaders and would-be leaders without fear of reprisal, is one of the best things about living in this country. He adds that Trump’s attacks are “not an appropriate way for a Presidential candidate to behave.”
Meanwhile, the Washington Post holds that Bezos has exercised no control over its content—and, indeed, the Post has come out in favor of taxing online retailers such as Amazon. While Trump has complained about Post reporters being directed to dig up everything on him they can, Post executive editor Martin Baron has said that the decision to write a book on Trump came entirely from within the newsroom.
[Bezos] declined to address each of Trump’s allegations specifically, but observed, “Some people would say this is very tactical, to immunize against the media. . . . But I’m very, very comfortable with all of Amazon’s approaches and behaviors, [such as] the way we pay taxes. The political positions we take are focused on our business, and I think highly appropriate.”
For my part, I think Trump’s attack against Bezos and Amazon is entirely motivated by noticing there’s a controversy there and hoping that getting on the “right” side of it will score him votes among those Republicans who might favor the Big Five publishers over Amazon.
The e-book angle here is simply that e-books were responsible for the first major dispute Amazon had with the publishers—the $9.99 price point—and they’re still one of the biggest pain points for anyone in the industry who isn’t Amazon. Whether they’re on the “decline” or not, e-books are the next great publishing frontier, and they’re a frontier that Amazon currently has pretty much in its pocket.
From one perspective, this is one of the clearest possible signs that e-books have finally “arrived”—that at least one Presidential candidate sees them (or at least the situation they helped to create) as a hot-button issue in his campaign. But from another perspective, the fact that he’s making such a big deal over e-books only helps to underscore the ridiculousness of Donald Trump.