Waterstones boss accuses Amazon of exploiting tax in 'unconscionable' way

In a Norwegian forest outside Oslo the Future Library Project is underway.

Every year over the next century a writer will submit a piece of work that won't be published until 2114.

This year the author of Cloud Atlas, David Mitchell, has been invited to contribute.

The idea is the sapling they've planted will eventually be pulped for the print run.

But will the physical book still exist in 100 years? David Mitchell thinks it will.

When Amazon Launched the Kindle in 2007, it went on to become the most popular e-reader.

Millions were sold and the direction of travel looked clear.

Between 2011 and 2014 sales of eBooks in Britain rose steadily, peaking at £275m before falling by 11% last year.

Over the same period sales of physical books looked in steady decline.

But in 2015 the trend reversed and sales grew by 3% to £1.5bn. As it stands 1 in 3 books sold in the UK are eBooks.

The Amazon Kindle has been the most popular e-reader since 2007. Credit: PA

Waterstones initially embraced eBooks but stopped selling them from its website in May.

Last week the company withdrew e-readers from its stores, devoting the space to hard-backs.

Five years ago Waterstones was all but bust, squeezed between the relentless growth of Amazon and the decline in physical book sales.

In 2011 HMV sold the business to the Russian billionaire, Alexander Mamut for £53 million.

James Daunt became Managing Director and began cutting costs. Staff were released and stores were closed.

Today Waterstones is profitable again and Daunt is betting that print can hold its own.

"I think we've reached a new equilibrium, this is not a blip" he told ITV News. "Digital books are not quite the same as a real book, they don't sit on your bookshelf and give you that sense of ongoing pleasure".

"This business is dramatically turned around", insists Daunt and Waterstones is opening stores again.

But he complains that the tax system offers an enormous advantage to his online rivals.

He refers to both the general burden of Business Rates that all high street retailers face and the specific way that Amazon pays Corporate Tax.

Amazon and other multi-nationals have been accused of diverting profits abroad to avoid paying tax.

Amazon says British sales are now booked here rather than Luxembourg and it pays every penny that's legally owed.

The company says its 10 warehouses also serve communities, that 95% of staff who work there are employed full-time and that all staff are paid well above the National Living Wage.

The physical book is a love and kicking but many are sold online. Competition online and off is ferocious and another summer blockbuster is on the way.

There's a lot hanging on how and where Harry Potter fans buy their next fix.

Will Harry Potters fans buy the eBook or the real thing? Credit: ITV News