book fair targets Internet giants Amazon, Apple and Google

Organisers of the world’s biggest book fair warned on Tuesday against the domination of Internet giants as the publishing world grapples to blend old and new forms of reading.

American giants Amazon, Apple and Google — whose entry into the world of online sales and digital books is threatening the traditional publishing industry — are “logistics magicians but are not publishers”, said Juergen Boos, director of the Frankfurt Book Fair.

“There’s no passion there,” he told reporters as the giant German book fair prepared to open Wednesday.

Boos warned it was essential to maintain diversity in what people read and publish.

Doing so, he said, meant that technical standards that influence the way people read and access content, such as payment systems, should be designed to serve customers.

“Technical standards are tools. They must be designed to serve people and their needs, not the other way around,” he said. He called companies such as Apple and Amazon “machines for customer retention”.

But he insisted international publishing was not “paralysed with fear” and was fighting back with innovations, while smaller, independent book shops were also developing new ways to entice customers.

Asked about a bill approved by French lawmakers last week to prevent Amazon from offering free deliveries of discounted books, Boos said: “We look at France actually in many matters as an example.”

He said France’s support for its independent book trade through measures such as tax relief showed “esteem” for a sector that is part of the country’s culture.

“I think there we can actually learn from France,” he said. Despite pressure from the US Internet giants, publishers were upbeat about the industry’s future as it adapts to embrace the digital age. Adapted from

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