Amazon is ‘a merciless commercial engine,’ says author Mark Haddon


If you buy Mark Haddon’s new short story collection on Amazon, you’ll be missing out.

The bestselling author of “The Curious Incident of the Dog in the Night-Time” has a new book, “The Pier Falls,” that comes in two editions — a standard one, available for purchase at Amazon, and one featuring his illustrations, which can only be bought at brick-and-mortar bookstores.

Haddon appeared at the Cheltenham Literature Festival in England where he explained the reasons behind the move, the Guardian reports.

“Much as we love Amazon, we like bookshops much more, don’t we?” Haddon said to the audience. “So we did an edition that is only available in physical, bricks-and-mortar bookshops. It was a way of saying: Go and buy from a bookshop. Go into a real bookshop and buy it off some real people.”


Haddon had harsh words for Amazon, calling the online retailer “a merciless commercial engine. Also because of the way it treats its staff. The way it treats its competitors.”

He suggested that other authors should also consider printing special editions of their books that would only be available in physical bookstores.

“I think it would be a great thing to do if more people did that,” he said. “It happened because I’m an illustrator. It was genuinely good fun to do the illustrations. Drawing pictures is so much easier than writing stories.”

The version of the “The Pier Falls” available at bookstores features 10 illustrations by Haddon, including drawings of bumper cars and the planet Mars, reports the Times of London.

Haddon started his career as a children’s book author, and illustrated many of his own books. “The Curious Incident of the Dog in the Night-Time,” his 2003 novel for adults, became a breakout hit, and was the basis for a Tony Award-winning play.


Haddon mocked Amazon founder and CEO Jeff Bezos for his support of the “Clock of the Long Now,” which is being constructed on Bezos’ land in Texas.

“The man’s building a 10,000-year clock inside his own mountain, which somehow spectacularly must happen,” Haddon said. “It says almost everything you need to know about Amazon.”

Haddon also suggested that fans who choose to read his short story collection as an e-book are missing out.

“E-books — they prevent you from doing something very important things with books,” he said. “One of them is sharing books with people. I love that books have afterlives. Often when people come up to you at book events, they don’t always give you new books to sign. You sometimes get coffee-stained things that have passed through several hands.”