Amazon has been working hard to bolster its image as a destination for quality entertainment, not just a place for online shopping. Picture: AP Photo/Mark Lennihan

London - Online giant Amazon is harming the books industry and threatens to “destroy” competition, the head of Britain's booksellers has warned.

“Amazon is a negative influence on today's publishing industry,” Tim Godfray, chief executive of the Booksellers Association, told a panel at the London Book Fair.

“Amazon has got so big it is now not competing but destroying the competition.”

Mr Godfray said the internet giant is dictating tougher terms from publishers and is improving its own margins further by funnelling most of its £3bn of UK sales through Luxembourg to avoid British corporation tax.

While consumers have benefited from lower prices, Mr Godfray claimed Amazon was then “locking customers into their own proprietary system”, the Kindle e-book platform.

But Eoin Purcell, commissioning editor at Irish publisher New Island Books, said Amazon was “probably the most unfairly maligned company operating in the books trade at the moment”.

He urged publishers and technology rivals to “look at its success and learn from it”. - The Independent