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Amazon’s Reputation Untarnished by Hachette Contract Dispute

4245550588_9e56b4e8db_o[1]The book world might be in a fury over the 8 month old Amazon Hachette contract dispute but it looks like most consumers don’t care.

A new report from YouGov BrandIndex shows that Amazon’s reputation has only been minimally affected by the ongoing fight. This research firm, which last year ranked Amazon the best-perceived brand in the US, says that:

Amazon’s corporate-leading consumer perception is proving resilient so far in the face of its showdown with Hachette Book Group.

How bulletproof has Amazon’s consumer perception been? Despite stories about its warehouse worker conditions dating back several years, YouGov BrandIndex data ranked Amazon as the best perceived brand in the U.S. last year, ahead of Ford, Subway, The History Channel, and Lowe’s.

Although the dispute with Hachette has received considerable attention, Amazon’s perception changes — as measured by YouGov BrandIndex’s Buzz scores — over the past few weeks can best be described as “minute” and word of mouth scores have remained steady.

YouGov BrandIndex uses two measures to score a brand’s reputation, buzz and word of mouth. The first measures whether what a consumer has heard about a brand in the previous 2 weeks, and whether the consumer described it is positive or negative, while the second tracks whether the consumer mentions the brand themselves.

All respondents are adults age 18 and over and live in three countries: the United States, United Kingdom and Germany, and YouGov BrandIndex reports that the buzz in all 3 countries has remained fairly steady. There have been ups and downs, but not a general negative reaction to the negative press coverage.

And that comes as a deep surprise to this blogger. Hachette and their friends in the media have been running a very thorough media campaign against Amazon, and I expected that it would have greater effect. Instead, consumers are either seeing through the media blitz, or they don’t see the situation in the same light as industry insiders.

Instead, it turns out that all the coverage is just preaching to the choir.


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oj829 June 6, 2014 um 2:11 pm

Amazon used to excessively remind me upon placing an order that I’ve spent more than $xx.xx in shipping in the past 12 months, and wouldn’t I love to subscribe to Prime?

They’ve stopped that nag, and several recent orders are taking way longer than normal to get to "Preparing for shipment" status. (I would have particularly appreciated actually receiving my unlocked phone before the Sprint/T-Mobile announcement..)

Foot-dragging on delivery service as a marketing tool. Monopolies suck.

Stacey G. June 6, 2014 um 7:38 pm

I think most consumers who already liked Amazon would be very difficult to convince to act against their own best interests and boycott a company that they know from experience has worked tirelessly to provide them with low prices, wide selection and great customer service. Especially when they know that the folks who want them to hate Amazon are publishing companies that colluded with Apple to raise ebook prices, and authors with Stockholm Syndrome when it comes to those same big publishing companies. They know they can go other places to buy these books, they just don’t want to.

flyingtoastr June 6, 2014 um 9:10 pm

Yep, that’s totally it. Anyone who thinks our lord and savior Jeff Bezos is wrong clearly has psychological issues. It couldn’t possibly be that they looked at what Wal Mart did for the last thirty years and decided that one company loss leading the rest of the retail sector out of existance and squeezing suppliers until they have to move operations overseas maybe isn’t the best thing for our economy.

Nate Hoffelder June 7, 2014 um 2:07 am

"our lord and savior Jeff Bezos" Only detractors such as yourself use language like that, making it a straw man argument.

"Wal Mart did for the last thirty years" You’re conveniently ignoring that the chain bookstores were pulling these same tricks decades before Amazon, and yet only Amazon is evil. It’s funny how the B&N-S&S fight last year didn’t get nearly this much press, isn’t it?

flyingtoastr June 7, 2014 um 10:52 am

It’s always interesting to me that you consider the BN/SS fight last year the "same" as this one. Funny how you were more than happy to write op-eds about how evil BN was for playing hardball with their negotiations and hurting authors, yet Amazon is *TOTALLY* justified doing the same thing.

I mean, it isn’t surprising given your biases, but it is funny. How do you handle the cognitive dissonance from such doublethink?

Nate Hoffelder June 7, 2014 um 10:58 am

Maybe you should check your facts before making wild accusations. I searched, and this was the only time I covered the B&N-S&S story last year:

That is relatively neutral, I think.

puzzled June 6, 2014 um 8:03 pm

You have to consider where Hachette’s PR is playing out. They are preaching to the converted. How many 'normal' consumers will see more than a few of the Hachette PR pieces, unless they are looking for them? What is the reach of the PR campaign? How many people will it convert to anti-Amazon? Vs the tens/hundreds of millions that shop Amazon?

Ray June 7, 2014 um 12:31 am

Most large corporations are evil. What is the point of boycotting one and buy what you need from another suppliers? I only buy from places that offer me the lowest prices. How they do their business is not my business.

Hayden June 7, 2014 um 3:50 am

Ray, you have it pretty much spot on. In this case, Amazon is till giving us great prices and great services. Hachette has conspired to raise prices and it may be trying to do the same now. Out of the two evils, who should I pick?

TheGreatFilter June 7, 2014 um 9:11 am

As a general attitude and buying-strategy, your reasoning is just an excuse for not owning your own actions.

fjtorres June 7, 2014 um 6:37 am

The vast majority of people out there understand that in the corporate world there are no angels. They have learned the media can’t be trusted because they are corporate mouthpieces to start with and always have an agenda. And they have learned that true controversies have two sides and that if they only hear one side, the odds are good it’s a PR campaign.
They long ago learned to tune out PR campaigns.

Amazon benefits from this.

More, even though nobody knows exactly why they are fighting, the anti-Amazon camp keeps floating the premise that the fight is over ebook pricing. This is something most consumers really don’t care about and the few that care are the few that remember the price fixing conspiracy and the anti-DOJ campaign of two years ago. If they care at all, they are likely to be rooting for Amazon so they can get their reads cheap.

Add it up and it is easy to see why the campaign is only succeeding in raising the ire of Amazon haters and publishing insiders. The people with vested interest in seeing Amazon fail. Everybody else is either neutral or an Amazon customer; everybody else is more preocupied with their own daily problems.

This is starting to look like a rope-a-dope fight.

Timothy Wilhoit June 7, 2014 um 7:46 am

"More, even though nobody knows exactly why they are fighting, the anti-Amazon camp keeps floating the premise that the fight is over ebook pricing."
It doesn’t matter what the ADS folks think, it does matter what the DoJ thinks. I tend to agree with PG, if they’ve sent letters to Hach, S&S and HC ("Hey guys, ru colluding again?") then then they’ve likely gotten a tip. If they get any evidence they’ve been talking about pricing, those three will probably be back in court. I can imagine Judge Cote would be…rather displeased. If I were them, I would also have "anxiety" at the prospect.

fjtorres June 7, 2014 um 10:50 am

As I’ve said, I expect that more than colluding *again* they are colluding *still*.
I’ve seen no evidence they’ve abandoned their agreed-upon goal from the conspuracy.
They’ll keep on looking for ways around the adult supervision and if all else fails they’ll fallback to collusion by merger.

TheGreatFilter June 7, 2014 um 9:18 am

Nate, overall I’m growing to dislike your coverage of Amazon. One moment you are decrying Amazon as evil, the next you are saying poor Amazon. I understand you’re playing both sides to get your hit count up, but from a journalistic point-of-view, I would prefer to see you taking a more objective stand point. There is no need to spectacularize the subject. Your current approach is damaging your credibility IMO.

Nate Hoffelder June 7, 2014 um 9:49 am

I can accept that I may have implied Amazon is evil (that sounds like my type of sarcasm) but where have I said "poor Amazon", or even implied it?

I have regularly used neutral wording to describe the current ruckus as "Amazon-Hachette contract dispute". For example, I see this post as relatively neutral, with a subtle subtext of "Hachette’s FUD isn’t working". But I carefully didn’t _call_ it FUD, and that is because I am trying to keep my coverage impartial.

I can’t help but wonder if, in comparison to all the anti-Amazon stories, I appear to be taking Amazon’s side simply because I am less biased than most other sources. The ongoing coverage of the Amazon-Hachette contract dispute story is almost universally biased against Amazon, and I think that might be skewing your perception.

Does that make any sense?

TheGreatFilter June 7, 2014 um 2:06 pm

I take it all back. I’m full of crap sometimes.

Mackay Bell June 7, 2014 um 4:41 pm

Amazon is a pretty useful service, and it’s built on customer satisfaction (because you can easily go elsewhere to buy if you aren’t satisfied). Trying to convince people who use Amazon that it’s evil isn’t going to go very far unless you have a clear point to make. The pro-Hachette PR blitz has been like a shotgun filled with little Nerf balls.

First, they tried to get everyone worked up about the fact that people’s "favorite" books weren’t available, or would take a long time to to be shipped. Then it turned out most of those books were available, shipping times weren’t that bad, and if they were, you could get the books easily elsewhere. And trying to get outrage over not being able to "pre-order" unpublished books was a non-starter.

Second, they had some writers come out and whine that they might personally not make as much money as they would like. Hard for the average person working at the local fast food establishment to have much sympathy there.

Third, they tried to say that Amazon was ruining literature, which most people couldn’t care less about. (And besides, they’ve been saying that about Amazon for years anyway.) That argument might work to save a local bookstore, or kickstart a small press, but it’s unlikely to work on Amazon customers.

Then, they tried to say government intervention was necessary. That’s really sunk like a stone. If the Government won’t increase minimum wage, despite widespread support, you really think you’re going to get the public crying out for raising book prices?

Finally, they resorted to saying that if Amazon isn’t stopped now, it will do REALLY evil things (that people might care about) later.

None of those dogs would hunt. Trying to convince people it’s for the better good for them to pay more for books is really an uphill fight. Short of Amazon kidnapping J.K. Rolling, I’m not sure how Hachette thought they would win a big public PR battle. I guess they were assuming Amazon would just buckle at the first hint of bad press.

Not only did they guess wrong, but I think they’ve done themselves long term damage. Amazon comes away looking more unbeatable, and traditional publishing looks as greedy and clueless as ever.

fjtorres June 7, 2014 um 6:59 pm

One dog did hunt: the demands that the government intervene resulted in the DOJ sending out a request for information…to the BPHs…
A reminder not to collude.
Not that they will listen but at least the Government is paying attention.

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