One of the world’s most powerful literary agents has pulled no punches in a recent criticism of Amazon, by comparing the online retailer to extremist militant group Isis.
In a keynote speech to the International Festival of Authors in Toronto, Canada, Andrew Wylie also aimed his sharp tongue towards EL James’ 50 Shades of Grey – calling it “one of the most embarrassing moments in western culture.”
Wylie, who represents internationally renowned writers including Salman Rushdie and Martin Amis, said Amazon is like a “sort of Isis-like distribution channel”.
He went on to urge publishers “not to blink” during negotiations on royalties with the online store, and criticised them for granting Amazon 30 per cent of digital profits.
But he went on to stress that the online giant’s fortunes were fading and its monopoly of the market could crumble.
“I believe with the restored health of the publishing industry and having some sense of where this sort of Isis-like distribution channel, Amazon, is going to be buried and in which plot of sand they will be stuck, [publishers] will be able to raise the author’s digital royalty to 40 per cent or 50 per cent,” he said according to the Guardian.
“Writers will begin to make enough money to live,” he said.
Dismissing Amazon as a “digital trucking company”, Wylie added: “The publishing industry, up until now, has cowered and whined and moaned and groaned and given Amazon pretty much everything they want. Now I think that’s going to stop.”
But by forming a united front, publishers could enjoy leverage over Amazon which could see authors profit from their digital book sales, he predicted.
After berating the hugely popular 50 Shades of Grey, of which a film adaptation will be released in 2015, he called self-publishing as “the aesthetic equivalent of telling everyone who sings in the shower they deserve to be in La Scala”.
His comments come after similarly unsavoury remarks in March, when he compared Amazon to Napoleon and said: “If you have a choice between the plague and Amazon, pick the plague,” and went on to claim that it had a “publishing programme that stands out for its idiocy".
Wylie also backed Authors United, a 100-author-strong group which criticised Amazon for hurting sales of publisher Hachette – rallying the support of some of his best-known writers including Rushdie to sign the petition.
Amazon did not respond to requests for comment from the Guardian and has not yet replied to a request for a comment from The Independent.Reuse content