Brits spend £70 a year on Amazon

Every man, woman and child in Britain spends an average of £70 a year on Amazon, according to a new BBC television programme.

"Amazon’s Retail Revolution", part of the Business Boomers series, which aired last night (21st April) on BBC Two, charted the growth of the online retail business set up by Jeff Bezos 20 years ago.

Amazon is now so ingrained in everyday life that the word itself has become a verb, an Amazon shopper told the show. “If I want to know something, I’ll Google it. If I want to buy something, I’ll Amazon it,” he told the BBC.

Part of the documentary was filmed at The Bookseller's FutureBook Conference last November. Michael Bhaskar, digital publishing director at Profile Books, told the programme that to publishers Bezos was like "God".

He said: “Amazon are undoubtedly the most important player in the book world today. Whether print books or e-books. They really are the central platform around which the whole publishing industry is operating these days. Publishers think about Jeff Bezos kind of like how they might think about God - as a very distant, inaccessible figure who is all powerful and all knowing."

Seni Glaister, c.e.o of The Book People, said: “The general feeling is that it is wonderful and terrifying in equal measure. There is no escaping the fact that Amazon is a dominant force and monopoly is never good for business and it is certainly not good for consumers.”

Charlie Redmayne, c.e.o of HarperCollins, added: “They are not in business to support publishers, they are in business to make Amazon as successful as possible. Some of the things they do are contrary to the things we would like. So you fight back and that is what I am doing with HaperCollins – bring it on.”

The programme also revealed that chief executive Bezos hates PowerPoint presentations and instead uses “narratives” – long reports that other members of the Amazon team read before cross-examining the author.

Dave Cotter, a former manager at Amazon, said: “It’s a really intellectual exercise that, once you go through it a few times, you realise how powerful it is,” he said, adding: “Most of the world does not follow that kind of intellectual rigour.”

Another of Bezos’ ideas is that when hiring, Amazon staff should always pick someone smarter than themselves to make sure the intelligence levels at the company will keep rising.

In related news, Amazon has struck a deal to sell photo books created through online self-publishing platform Blurb. Under the terms of the deal, Blurb users can sell books via Amazon.com for a fee of 15% + $1.35 (80p) off the list price for each copy sold.

The scheme is currently only available through the US site but Amazon said it will roll it out to other online stores in the near future.