Top-selling author James Patterson accuses Amazon of 'book monopoly'

Author James Patterson has accused Amazon of hurting the publishing industry by its ''monopolistic'' practices .

During a speech to independent booksellers in New York, Patterson - whose publisher Hatchette Book Group is in the middle of a pricing dispute with Amazon - said that the online retailer "wants to control book buying, book selling and even book publishing." He added that Amazon "sounds like the beginning of a monopoly."

His remarks came while accepting an award for championing small bookstores at BookExpo America, (BEA) the annual convention of the industry.

The author of Alex Cross series,  and Michael Bennett, Women's Murder Club, Maximum Ride, Daniel X, and Witch and Wizard series, as well as many stand-alone thrillers, non-fiction and romance novels

According to Patterson, whose books have sold more than 300 million copies, the future of literature was in danger.

"Amazon wants to control book buying, book selling and even book publishing," Patterson said, adding that the company "sounds like the beginning of a monopoly."

Amazon's pricing dispute had seen the online retailer allegedly deliberately limiting the supply of books from Hachette, including titles from Patterson and JK Rowling (writing as Robert Galbraith).

Without responding to Patterson's remarks, Amazon, in defence of its stance, said it had not been able to reach equitable terms with Hachette.

In his speech Patterson called out the US government and faulted the news media for not acknowledging Amazon's actions, specifically mentioning BEA's media partners, including USA Today.

However, according to USA Today it had already written about the controversy in the past week, which included an article posted Wednesday.

Commentators say Amazon was confirming its critics' worst fears. Even as the online marketing giant had marketed itself as a book buyer's best friend, the company's escalating dispute with publisher Hachette was revealing its true colours.

Joiurnalist Farhad Manjoo wrote in The New York Times, "In an effort to exert pressure on Hachette," Amazon was resorting to "hardball tactics," increasing prices on Hachette titles, removing preorder buttons for upcoming books, and also increasing shipping times from a few days to weeks.

However, according to Timothy Stenovec at the Huggington Post, Amazon could afford to pick up the fight. While the company "rose to prominence as a bookstore," book sales now accounted for less than 20 per cent of its transactions, and consumer research studies suggested that "it may not be long before books, which are the retailer's second-biggest category, get eclipsed by groceries."

While Amazon might be "busy flexing its huge muscle" with book publishers for now, but other industries might come to view this as a cautionary tale as the e-commerce juggernaut started branching out.