Amazon Kindle

Amazon CEO Jeff Bezos unveils the Kindle Paperwhite in 2012 in Santa Monica. Super agent Andrew Wylie says writers should avoid digital book deals with Amazon. (Los Angeles Times / September 6, 2012)

The legendary literary agent Andrew Wylie, known as "The Jackal" for his comes-out-swinging business and negotiating tactics, has long professed his distaste for the book-and-everything-else retailer Amazon.

Wylie has represented many of the biggest names of publishing over the last half century, from Vladimir Nabokov to Salman Rushdie. Back in October, when asked if he'd ever sign a book deal with Amazon's new digital publishing arm, he responded thusly:

"If one of my children were kidnapped and they were threatening to throw a child off a bridge and I believed them, I might" sign such a deal, Wylie told the New Republic. He also compared Amazon's tactics and evolution to Napoleon.

Now Wylie has come out swinging again, this time in Germany, where Amazon is launching a new German-language publishing program with two new titles. The remarks were translated and reported by sites such as the Bookseller and independent publisher Melville House.

Wylie told the readers of Frankfurter Allgemeine Zeitung that if Amazon's American publishing efforts were any guide, Amazon in Germany will “operate the most irrelevant publishing company that you can imagine. No even moderately well-known authors will get involved with Amazon Publishing, because bookstores will not carry these books. Amazon is not interested in print, only digital.”

He is quoted as saying that getting "the plague" was preferable to working with Amazon and said the company's publishing program "stands out for its idiocy."

And of Amazon Chief Executive Jeff Bezos, Wylie said, "Books are for him less important than refrigerators."

hector.tobar@latimes.com