Amazon draws battle lines in escalating publishing war

Posted on by Mike Evans

Battle lines in the publishing war are being drawn as Amazon turns itself into a publisher, cutting out the the middle man. Following last week’s announcement that Amazon had bought the rights to Ian Fleming’s Bond novels, the company has said it will start it’s own publishing arm. The Telegraph reports on the development this morning.

No wonder the traditional publishers are scampering around to make deals intended to protect their future. Digital publishing is easier than traditional publishing. As far as I can see, all you need is a designer, a sub-editor, a proof reader and, possibly, a publicist. There are no printing contracts, no investment in titles that might or might not sell, no distribution costs, no estimation of print runs, virtually no risk. Simply finalise the digital file, upload it, light the blue touchpaper and sit back to see what happens.

Eventually, this economy of scale will be translated into cheaper electronic books and more expensive printed books. It has to happen, despite the publishers’ efforts to skew the market in favour of print.

And it is about time ebooks and printed books were treated equally by Britain’s over-complicated tax regime. Printed books, which by any standards have a high “carbon footprint”, are tax free; ebooks are taxed at 20 percent. This Mad Hatter’s tea party of a VAT regulation makes absolutely no sense.

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