Pullman: 'Amazon investigation should include author earnings'

Pullman: 'Amazon investigation should include author earnings'

Philip Pullman has warned that the European Commission should consider falling author income as part of its investigation into Amazon's e-book business.

The author warned The Bookseller that the investigation, announced yesterday (11th June), was failing to take the role of the author into account, because there was seemingly no mention of “the creators of the work that all this is about, namely the authors” in the reasons behind the move.

“The EU Commissioner says that Amazon ‘offers consumers a comprehensive service,’ and wants to make sure ‘that Amazon’s arrangements with publishers are not harmful to consumers’," Pullman said. “Amazon in reply says that it’s ‘confident that our agreements … are in the best interests of readers’." He added: “Will the commission investigate the effect Amazon’s online bookselling has had on authors’ incomes? I hope they will.”

Pullman warned that if the EC fails look at author earnings the investigation will “need doing all over again, properly”.

Earlier this week Pullman, speaking at the a.g.m. of music licensing agency PPL, said Amazon’s low prices has led young people to see books as having no value.

“Amazon has done one good thing, which is to make books available to everyone. But they’ve done it at terrible cost to authors by selling books so cheaply,” he said. “It gives the impression that books don’t cost very much to create.”

Not all authors will agree with Pullman's view: during Amazon's terms dispute with Hachette USA a number of writers, including many self-published authors, highlighted the positive impact Amazon had had on their earnings, including paying higher royalties, with payments made more regularly.