Germaine Greer: e-books 'should cost pennies'

Germaine Greer: e-books 'should cost pennies'

Writer Germaine Greer has said that e-books should “cost pennies” and accused people of having an “irrational attachment to the [printed] book”.

Greer was speaking on an episode of BBC Radio 4’s "The Report" (aired Thursday 28th August), which focused on the dispute between Amazon and Hachette Book Group.

“Amazon wants to sell e-books at less, so they should,” she said. “They should cost less because they don’t have to be put together, stitched, printed, designed, blah, blah, blah. If you skip all that and all you have got is a ribbon of text on a Kindle then it should cost you pennies frankly.”

When questioned about why some people were opposed to Amazon's actions, she said: “Because they have an irrational attachment to the [printed] book. They think that a book is somehow a worthy object in itself.”

However Douglas Preston, the author behind the Authors United campaign, also interviewed for the programme, compared Amazon’s founder Jeff Bezos to Napoleon.

“I think Jeff Bezos is an evangelist as much as he is a businessman,” Preston said. “He believes he’s making the world a better place and I think he’s less concerned about making a profit. Now that might sound like a nice thing but if you study history you’ll realise it is the people who believed that they were right, believed it absolutely, who are the ones who do the most damage. I’m thinking of people like Napoleon, or Donald Rumsfeld more recently.”

Scottish writer Alexander McCall Smith, published by Hachette’s Little, Brown division in the UK, was more diplomatic, telling the programme: “Many of my books have been sold through Amazon and if people wish to buy books through Amazon then I am happy to see that. I do hope that they manage to resolve their misunderstandings and their difficulties with the publishers.”