A truly awful piece of journalism appeared in the Independent this week under the byline of Ian Johnston, describing Amazon as Darth Vadar and accusing it of closing down small publishers.
Strong stuff. Totally wrong, of course. No one has done more to help independent publishers than Amazon. Any book published by anyone anywhere can be bought through Amazon. How does that not help small publishers?
So what is the source of this attack on Amazon?
Well, the headline says it all - AMAZON. THE 'DARTH VADER OF THE LITERARY WORLD' IS CRUSHING SMALL PUBLISHERS, FORMER DOWNING ST ADVISER CLAIMS
Ah. So the source is a political spin doctor? Hmmmm. We all know how reliable they are, right?
The adviser is Rohan Silver, who is launching his own book shop.
Ah. So the source is a spin doctor who plans to go into competition with Amazon. Obviously a man with an axe to grind. And what better way to get publicity for his new venture than to attack Amazon in public?
Silver even describes his new shop as 'an Amazon-killer'. Now I know that spin doctors do tend to tell porkies, but seriously? His shop has as much chance of killing Amazon as I have of walking on the moon.
Don't get me wrong, I'm a huge fan - and supporter - of book shops (and libraries). I shop at book shops and I do signings when asked. And I agree that Amazon's discounting and superb customer service has hurt book shops. But the Amazon marketplace is available to all sellers, and offers opportunities for small publishers to sell their wares around the world.
If small publishers are hurting, then let's hear from them. But let's also hear from all the new publishers that have been formed to take advantage of the Amazon marketplace.
I function as a small publisher. I sell thousands of eBooks a month and 90 per cent of them are sold through Amazon. I am not alone. Thousands of other authors are publishing their own work and most sell their work through Amazon. Small publishing operations like ours would not be possible without Amazon. And hundreds of small publishing companies have been set up to help authors sell their eBooks - that would never have happened without Amazon.
This article by Ian Johnston is one-sided partisan nonsense. And it's not even his own work!
You can read Ian Johnston's article in The Independent HERE
As you can see HERE it's a rewrite of an article that appeared in The Daily Telegraph. That's all he did. He didn't speak to anyone, and he didn't add anything. He just rewrote what the Telegraph had published.
What would a decent journalist have done? Spoken to Amazon, for a start. Or spoken to small publishers. Or spoken to someone with a different point of view. Or perhaps realise that the 'story' was a nonsense and should be ignored.
Ian Johnston didn't do any of that. He just rewrote the Telegraph article and the Independent published it. Shame on the Independent, but then it's a pretty awful newspaper these days. Readership has slumped to just 40,000 and it will shut for good next month.
Good riddance, I say. It's a pity, because I was a Fleet Street Journalist when The Independent was launched in 1986 and back then it was a terrific paper and I like most journalists admired it for what it was trying to do. Friends of mine worked for it and they were all enthused by The Independent's commitment to fine journalism. But those days are long gone. Now it's staffed by ill-trained youngsters in the main, wannabe journalists who would never have been hired back in the Eighties.
The Independent will continue as an on-line edition, but I'm fairly sure it won't succeed in that form either. Not with journalists like Ian Johnston, anyway.