Famous children's author refuses literary award over association with 'immoral' company Amazon
The inaugural Booktrust Best Book Awards wanted to present the 76-year-old author with a lifetime achievement award
Nick Clark is the arts correspondent of The Independent. He joined the newspaper in June 2007, initially reporting on the stock markets. He has covered beats including the City, and technology, media and telecoms and made the switch to arts in December 2011. He has also contributed articles to the sports section.
Thursday 10 July 2014
The celebrated children’s author Allan Ahlberg, best known for Each Peach Pear Plum written with his late wife Janet, has refused to accept a literary award because it is sponsored by Amazon and urged the publishing industry to have nothing to do with the company.
The inaugural Booktrust Best Book Awards wanted to present the 76-year-old author with a lifetime achievement award in London on 1 July.
It has since emerged that Ahlberg declined the award, saying it was “unacceptable” because of its association with the giant online retailer, criticising Amazon’s tax avoidance in the UK.
The author, who has won numerous awards over his 40-year writing career which has produced more than 150 books, described the firm’s practices as “immoral”.
In a letter to The Bookseller magazine, Ahlberg said: “Tax, fairly applied to us all, is a good thing. It pays for schools, hospitals – libraries! When companies like Amazon cheat: paying 0.1 per cent on billions, pretending it is earning money not in the UK, but in Luxembourg – that’s a bad thing. We should surely, at the very least, say that it is bad and on no account give them any support or, by association, respectability.”
Margaret Hodge, chair of the Commons Public Accounts Committee, said in May that shoppers should find alternative places to buy their books after it emerged that Amazon had paid just £4.2 million in tax last year despite selling goods worth £4.3 billion.
The US retailer’s name is prominently displayed on the publicity material for the award and all over its website.
Viv Bird, Booktrust’s chief executive, said the group was “naturally disappointed we could not celebrate Allan’s achievements and his lifetime’s work, but this was his personal decision”.
She added Amazon’s sponsorship “enabled us to celebrate some of the best of children’s literature, create a buzz around books, and make a significant contribution to our mission of encouraging more children to read”.
Amazon did not respond to calls seeking comment.
GlastonburyWI to make debut appearance at Somerset festival
TV reviewIt has taken seven episodes for Game of Thrones season five to hit its stride
FilmPalme d'Or goes to radical and astonishing film that turns conventional thinking about immigrants on its head
Arts & Ents blogs
- 1 Amber Peat: Body found in search for missing 13-year-old who left house after argument with her parents
- 2 California man brutally beat 82-year-old Sikh grandfather he mistook for 'one of those people'
- 3 School kitchen manager 'fired from Colorado school for giving hungry students free lunches'
- 4 Gay teenager 'forced to have sex with his own mother' to 'cure' his homosexuality, campaigners in India say
- 5 Charles Kennedy 'had better judgement drunk than many sober politicians' says Ian Hislop
Syd Barrett's inner visions
Britain's Got Talent 2015: Simon Cowell 'feels like an idiot' after Jules and Matisse scandal
Game of Thrones season 6: George RR Martin doing 'anything he can' to get new book The Winds of Winter out before next HBO series airs
Game of Thrones, Battle of Hardhome: 20-minute Wildlings versus White Walkers battle took a 'solid month' to film
Game of Thrones season 5 episode 9, The Dance of Dragons: Jon Snow returns to The Wall after epic Battle of Hardhome
Thousands of teenage girls enduring debilitating illnesses after routine school cancer vaccination
Migrants in Kos: Photos show real tragedy after Brits abroad complain of 'awkward' holidays
British tourists complain that impoverished boat migrants are making holidays 'awkward' in Kos
Michael Gove determined to scrap the Human Rights Act – even if Scotland retains it
Threat to scrap Human Rights Act could see UK follow Nazi example, warns UN official
Church of England 'one generation away from extinction' after dramatic loss of followers