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Amazon “Buy It Now” Link Shows Up Directly In Editorial Of Bezos-Owned Washington Post
Paper claims insertion of Amazon link was unintentional.
A recent article in the Washington Post critiquing the cover art for a new British version of Roald Dahl’s Charlie and the Chocolate Factory has the paper in hot water as the story was posted online with “Buy it now” Amazon links directly in the text of the article.
Advertising and purchasing links accompanying online news stories is by no means a new thing, but the insertion of the “Buy it now” link directly into the article’s copy crossed a line for many readers.
Beyond the questionable practice of adding advertising directly into editorial coverage, the fact that The Washington Post is owned by Amazon CEO Jeff Bezos only added fuel to the fire.
A spokesperson from the Washington Post told Digiday the paper has been embedding buy-it-now links long before Bezos bought the paper in October 2013. She went on to say the “Buy it now” link was mistakenly added directly within the piece by copy editors and not the writers and editors who worked on the story:
It was not intentional. And yes, the button is being fixed and will go back on the side where it has always been.
While the links have since been removed from the article, Digiday’s story included the following tweet from @HunterWalker who spotted the “Buy it now” link:
— Hunter Walk (@hunterwalk) August 17, 2014
The Washington Post story – What Divisive Charlie and the Chocolate Factory Cover Says about Books and Readers – was a commentary on publisher Penguin UK’s decision to release the classic children’s book with newly updated controversial cover art.
This story comes on top of Amazon’s ongoing dispute with the literary and publishing world, when the site began unfair contract negotiations with Hachette Publishing Group. Earlier this year, Amazon began deliberately delaying shipping times, as well as failing to offer discounted rates for Hachette books in an attempt to force contract conditions.
In light of the current Amazon-Hachett conflict, it’s hard to read quotes like the following from the Bezos-owned paper, and wonder if there’s more to the story than book cover art:
The modernization of a beloved children’s story, even if it goes no deeper than the cover art, gets to the heart of some reader anxiety — worries that the world is changing, and the book industry along with it.
By playing hardball with Hachette, Amazon – and by extension Jeff Bezos – has proven it has the power to change the way the world buys books. It is left to be seen whether or not Bezos has the same power when it comes to blurring the lines between editorial coverage and product promotions.