The ultimate in low class and poor breeding has occurred in the book world as an author turned down a major award due to its association with Amazon. UK-based children’s book author Allan Ahlberg declined the Booktrust Best Book Awards‘ Lifetime Achievement Award because the £5,000 prize money had been donated by Amazon.
Unlike vocal protests from other authors lately, Ahlberg’s stance wasn’t due to the common issues of Amazon’s growing chokehold over the book industry or the tired topic of publisher contract terms. Instead, his protest was over Amazon’s practice–like many international corporations, it bears mentioning–of basing its European headquarters in Luxembourg to take advantage of the significant tax breaks. That means Amazon pays far less in taxes than both independent booksellers and retail chain bookstores that are based in the UK, a fact that has left many citizens and businesspeople alike wondering why their government allows it to continue. Criticism of companies like Amazon, Starbucks, and Google has led to the release of figures that show how many billions of pounds this tax structure has already cost the UK alone.
While Ahlberg is entitled to his views on Amazon and its practices, it is to his credit that he didn’t publicly blast Amazon then quietly deposit the prize money. It would, however, have been a far more noble thing to graciously and appreciatively accept the inaugural award from Booktrust, and then openly donate Amazon’s funds to the UK’s independent booksellers and their member organization.