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Top literary agent accuses Amazon of ‘megalomania’

'Napoleon was a terrific guy before he started crossing national borders,' says Andrew Wylie

One of the world’s most powerful literary agents has attacked Amazon’s publishing arm, accusing it of “greed” and “megalomania”.

Andrew Wylie, who has been dubbed “The Jackal” for his aggressive approach to deals, turned on the online giant amid frustrations that the company’s policy of offering huge discounts on titles is hitting publishers’ profits.

Mr Wylie’s agency represents more than 700 authors, including Martin Amis, Philip Roth and Salman Rushdie. But there’s little chance any of them will ever be published by Amazon.

Publishers are better off cutting their ties with the online retailer, as the massive discounts that many have agreed are “a huge mistake”, Mr Wylie said. “I think we’d be fine if publishers just withdrew their product [from Amazon], frankly. If the terms are unsatisfactory, why continue to do business?”

He says his view of the company has changed: “I think that Napoleon was a terrific guy before he started crossing national borders. Over the course of time, his temperament changed, and his behaviour was insensitive to the nations he occupied.” In New Republic magazine this month, Mr Wylie accuses Amazon of having “walked itself into the position of thinking that it can thrive without the assistance of anyone else. That is megalomania.”