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Digital companies "have stranglehold on publishing"

Canadian novelist Kate Pullinger has said the power of Amazon, Apple and Google has put publishers in a "difficult situation".

Speaking as part of BBC Radio 4's "The World at One" "Future of the Book" series, Pullinger said she did feel optimistic about the future of publishing. However, she added: "I think the big publishers have got themselves into a difficult situation with the stranglehold that Amazon, Apple and Google have on bookselling currently, but I think there are other ways. Just as long as the internet remains a kind of open territory there will always be other economic markets [and] business models for people to exploit; there are myriad of ways for readers to find writers and writers to find readers."

Pullinger, who writes works specifically for the digital format as well as traditional novels for Serpent's Tail, called the future of publishing "definitely dangerous and unknown territory" but said it would bring opportunity as well as risk. Referring to the recent spate of agents publishing their writers' out of print backlist as e-books, she said: "The agent who is meant to be representing you in the world of publishing then becomes your publisher. I think that brings with it its own set of potential risks and problems."

She stressed the future of the book should be thought of as the future of storytelling and, pointing to the rise of self-publishing, said that was a route through which new authors could emerge. "I think one of the great changes that's happened in the last decade is that people are now very used to paying for things online, we're used to buying things online. I think that bodes well for the future of trying to create business models for stories and books etc online."

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If you want to listen to it, the interview is here: http://t.co/5F4jgtc

I recommend Sven Birkerts's The Gutenberg Elegies: The Fate of Reading in an Electronic Age (Faber & Faber, 1996).

If you want to listen to it, the interview is here: http://t.co/5F4jgtc

I recommend Sven Birkerts's The Gutenberg Elegies: The Fate of Reading in an Electronic Age (Faber & Faber, 1996).