If Politics & Prose owners Brad Graham and Lissa Muscatine are any indication, WaPo‘s new owner Jeff Bezos could get a pretty frosty welcome to Washington, if you can even call it a welcome. In a prickly letter that spells out just what concerns them, they cite a variety of reasons for their disdain.
Both spent stints at WaPo in their respective journalism careers before they bought the bookshop. Both have strong ties to the Graham era of WaPo. Brad was a foreign correspondent, editor and Pentagon reporter; Lissa, a reporter and editor on the Metro and Sports staffs. Both worked under Don Graham’s leadership. “Don is someone we both admire greatly, and we can’t imagine either journalism or Washington without the Post,” they wrote in a morning newsletter.
The couple really wants to believe the decision to sell to Bezos was a good one, but they have their doubts: “In the past two years, as stewards of another local cultural institution … we’ve routinely encountered a different version of Bezos. Indeed, among many independent booksellers he is perceived as a ruthless competitor bent on disrupting traditional retailers … without regard for the civic and commercial value that local bricks-and-mortar establishments still bring to neighborhoods around the country.”
During a recent appearance by NYT‘s Mark Leibovich at the shop for This Town, Lissa got bent out of shape when Leibovich even mentioned Amazon. She did not want him uttering the word.
After spending much of the newsletter detailing the pitfalls of Bezos, calling him a “bully” and Washington outsider who will continue to live in Seattle, they coldly welcome him to Washington. With a letter like this, no doubt Bezos will be sure to show up to Politics & Prose with bells on – or more likely, never.
“Now that Bezos will be a DC business owner, we’d like to extend our own welcome to him. We even hope that he might find time when in town to visit Politics & Prose and be reminded of the benefits afforded by local bookstores—the joy of browsing shelves, the help provided by expert staff, the pleasures of attending author events, and above all, the shared sense of community.“