May 7, 2014

“I am against Amazon because they are a monopoly,” says Andrew Wylie


This may or may not be a statue of Andrew Wylie in Buenos Aires, via Shutterstock.

This may or may not be a statue of Andrew Wylie in Buenos Aires, via Shutterstock.

Andrew Wylie is traveling to foreign countries to warn them about Amazon. Not too long ago, he was warning the Germans that they ought to “pick the plague” over Amazon’s new German publishing program. This week he was in Argentina attending the Buenos Aires Book Fair and talking with reporters about Amazon’s role in the DoJ case.

In an interview with Andrew Graham-Yooll for the Buenos Aires Herald, Wylie says flat-out that Jeff Bezos “encouraged a U.S. Department of Justice suit against the publishing industry.” He explains how difficult it was for publishers to fight these accusations:

“The nature that was relevant in the law was that the government did not have to prove conspiracy between publishers, they only had to prove the possibility. So publishers who had dinner together could be faced with allegations that they were conspiring to set prices. And the guilty would be so for hundreds of millions of dollars because of the possibility.”

He says without a trace of doubt that Amazon was behind the whole thing:

“The DoJ was fed by Amazon. They offered documents, evidence, and they had so many lobbyists that the DoJ became Amazon’s toadie. So I am against Amazon because they are a monopoly, they have the government’s support, and unlike the music business, I think that if you destroy publishing, you destroy culture.”

We should not just be concerned about U.S. publishing, there are already rumblings in France:

“Amazon even sent the police in France to raid Gallimard and another imprint to seek evidence of their conspiracy. Amazon is using the law to create the illusion that everyone they are trying to put out of business is conspiring to try to dominate Amazon.”

We can only hope Wylie has other pithy monologues planned for his next trip. This reporter seemed very impressed with his delivery. “He has a crisp voice and a no nonsense manner, a precision handed down perhaps through the bankers on his mother’s side of the family…. Agent Wylie may be all that is attributed to him, but he comes across as affable, informative and very pleasant, ready to answer any question.”

Graham-Yooll spent the rest of the interview asking about Wylie’s early career—driving cabs, starting an agency with Gillon Aiken—and they also chatted a bit about his clients. The reporter pointed out that Wylie only has one client from Argentina: Jorge Luis Borges. “Which is the right one to have,” Wylie replied.

Later, Wylie admitted he wants his ghost to linger in the industry a while longer than he does. “I have told my colleagues in the agency that I would be attending the weekly office meeting for at least ten years after I die.” No pressure!

His successor will be Sarah Chalfant, who runs the Wylie Agency‘s London office. Perhaps his ghost has some quips he can whisper in her ear in her first decade on the job. No one cuts down Amazon like the Jackal.


Kirsten Reach was an editor at Melville House.