Peter Carey: 'publishers have rolled over for Amazon'

Peter Carey: 'publishers have rolled over for Amazon'

Peter Carey has said that publishers historically “have just rolled over for Amazon”, and need to take some responsibility for the online retailer’s current dominance.

Talking to The Bookseller about his new book Amnesia (Faber), in which technology forms a central part, Carey said he thought “someone ought to start caring about the producers of the content” and that royalty rates needed to be increased.

“Publishers are making a shitload of money because of the [reduced] costs on e-books, writers less and less,” he said. “Publishers better start changing their P&Ls, and giving a better royalty rate than the pitiful one that they are offering on e-books.

“Publishers have let this happen as historically they have just rolled over for Amazon. This doesn’t mean I feel antagonistic to my publishers, whom I love, but the truth is far more complicated than Amazon are arseholes and publishers are saints.”

Amnesia begins with hackers releasing a virus targeting US-designed prison security systems, with the prime suspect young Australian Gaby Ballieux, the daughter of film star Celine. Journalist, and Celine’s ex-boyfriend, Felix Moore is called in to write Gaby’s “real story”.

The work of prominent hackers like Julian Assange and Edward Snowden lurks in the background of Amnesia, and Carey revealed to The Bookseller that his US editor Sonny Mehta asked him if he would like to ghost/co-write Assange’s book. But he dismissed the idea. “Two control freaks?” Carey said. “It wouldn’t work.”

The Bookseller’s Tom Tivnan said Amnesia is “Booker bait”, with a “decent shot” at being longlisted for the 2015 Man Booker Prize.

But Australian Carey is unimpressed that the prize, which this week announced its 2014 shortlist, has been opened up to American authors, telling The Bookseller that “it diminishes the prize’s unique character”.