Amazon is to launch a publishing operation in the UK as it looks to fend off competition in the ebook market.

The etailer is to shorten its supply chain by cutting out publishing houses whose books it retails online, The Telegraph reported.

Amazon is planning to buy the rights of archive titles and new books in a bid to boost its margins.

The move comes as Amazon looks to stave off competition from the Kobo which WHSmith last week revealed plans for in-store Kobo training zones while Apple’s iPad continues to increase in popularity.

Amazon last week bought the US rights to Ian Fleming’s James Bond novels representing its first publishing venture.

Former Time Warner Publishing chief executive Larry Kirshbaum has been appointed to establish its US publishing business.

Kirshbaum described Amazon as a “start-up” publisher with 20-25 staff in the division. He said: “Despite the fact that Amazon is a very large company on the retail side … we’re really a very small publisher.”

An Amazon source said: “All we care about is the Kindle. Strategically, it is the number one priority, and the number two and three.”