Amazon a better retailer than publisher, says Redmayne

Amazon a better retailer than publisher, says Redmayne

Amazon is not as good at publishing as it is at retailing, Charlie Redmayne, c.e.o of HarperCollins has said.

Speaking as part of 'The Friday Boss' feature on Radio 4‘s Today Show this morning (2nd October) in an interview with business journalist Simon Jack, Redmayne’s five-minute slot spanned the gamut of hot topics in publishing, from the impact of the internet to the threat of Amazon’s publishing arm. 

Redmayne brushed aside suggestions that the internet was a threat to publishers, and he described Amazon as a threat only “to a degree”.

He acknowledged the challenges Amazon's self-publishing programme posed in terms of discoverability and curation, given the “huge amount of new authors coming in”. However, of its directly competing publishing arm, he said: “My own view on that is that they’re certainly putting money into it and not seeing a lot come out of it – but maybe it’s about sticking to what they’re good at. They’re an extremely good retailer, but maybe not a very good publisher.”

Asked how the shift to Kindle and other digital platforms would affect product output, Redmayne identified the rise of short form publishing as one interesting trend. 

He did warn, however, that while publishing was no longer just about physical books, publishers should exercise caution in the use of video: “One of the things I hold onto in fiction publishing,” he said, “is that when you go and see a film that is of one of your favourite books, you invariably come out and say it wasn’t as good as the book - and that is because the author’s ability to create this imaginary world in your mind’s eye is better than you could do in a film.”

“So don’t add video just because you can; add video if it makes sense.”

Redmayne said authors and “great, great editors” were at publishing’s core, and with the quality of the content crucial to success: “it doesn’t really matter how smart you are in digital and other things. If you haven’t got that at your heart, you have nothing."

You can listen to the full interview here.