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Paul Ryan is of two minds about Amazon -- or is he?

Rep. Paul Ryan was careful while discussing the Amazon-Hachette flap -- even though his book is affected

Rep. Paul D. Ryan's book "The Way Forward: Renewing the American Idea" is out this week from Grand Central Publishing. So Ryan, like any aspiring author, has hit the book-tour road.

He appeared Wednesday on CNBC's "Squawk Box," and the show's anchors had questions about Amazon. Grand Central is part of Hachette, the company whose books Amazon has made less available to readers during contract negotiations.

"As a congressman I have to watch what I say, for ethical reasons," Ryan said.

But then he added, "It's a very frustrating thing. I wish this dispute got settled up. Clearly Amazon's making kind of a power play here -- in my opinion."

Ryan is a conservative Republican from Wisconsin who chairs the House Budget Committee and was GOP presidential candidate Mitt Romney's running mate in 2012. Like those of other politicians with big aspirations, his book is seen as a platform for a possible 2016 White House run.

That is, as long as voters can read it.

"Squawk Box's" Andrew Ross Sorkin jumped in with another Amazon-related question for Ryan, asking, "Do they have monopoly power?"

"I don't know the answer to that question," Ryan responded. Then, in the role of an author hawking his book, he said, "You can go to Barnes & Noble and get it."

Later, Sorkin asked if Ryan might consider federal regulation -- which the lawmaker generally opposes -- in the case of Amazon.

"If I were just a private citizen I would voice one opinion," Ryan said, "but since I'm a member of Congress and a policymaker, I'm going to withhold from making comments."

Which raises questions about whether he may have private critiques of Amazon but, like a polished politician, managed not to say anything in public that might commit him to a position on the matter.

Book news and more; I'm @paperhaus on Twitter

Copyright © 2015, Los Angeles Times
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