Is it possible that a bookstore clerk once dreadfully wronged Jeff Bezos? Because a rumor that Amazon might open more IRL, brick-and-mortar bookstores threw everyone into such a tizzy that it seems worth asking whether this has been some Count of Monte Cristo situation all along.

The Wall Street Journal reports that this story got its start from a rather unusual source:

The Seattle company plans to open as many as 400 bookstores, Sandeep Mathrani, chief executive of mall operator General Growth Properties Inc., said on an earnings call on Tuesday.

“You’ve got Amazon opening brick-and-mortar bookstores and their goal is to open, as I understand, 300 to 400,” said Mr. Mathrani in response to a question about mall traffic.

This isn’t totally out of the blue—the online mega-retailer opened its first physical bookstore in Seattle back in November. But hundreds seems rather aggressive, and the New York Times quickly reported that “a person briefed on the matter who spoke on the condition of anonymity to discuss confidential plans” said Amazon was planning a more modest expansion of the program. And now Mathrani has issued a “clarification” press release:

Chief Executive Officer Sandeep Mathrani has indicated that a statement he made concerning Amazon during GGP’s earnings conference call held on February 2, 2016, was not intended to represent Amazon’s plans.

Bet that was a fun phone call.

Maybe Mathrani fucked up. Or maybe Bezos leaked this little tidbit of misinformation specifically to give some anonymous book-selling nemesis the vapors. Just seems like a possibility we should entertain.


Contact the author at kelly@jezebel.com.

Image via AP.