Added on 25 August 2011

For centuries the publishing business has run to an almost perfect business model. If a writer wrote a wonderful book, he or she could do so in the sure and certain knowledge that it would be picked up by a respected publisher, regardless of whether or not it was commercially viable. Similarly, a book that was complete mince would never be published, even if it was written by a TV celebrity with a shaky grasp of English, even if it was guaranteed to sell; or, indeed, was written by a ghost and had a shaky celebrity's name attached to it. If it was rotten, no respectable publisher would touch it with a stick.

Consider Katie Price, who has just had her twenty-fifth consecutive number one bestseller with The Comeback Girl. In a world where the publishing business chased quick money and published any old shit, this classic would not have seen the light of day. Yet Random House took the chance with this unknown genius, built her audience and is now reaping the reward.

There are many such examples of the publishing industry putting the writer first and profit second, of carefully developing talent and seeing the writer through tough times, and of eschewing a quick buck in search of artistic triumph. Yet this Nirvana of delight that is the publishing industry faces a dark peril, a peril so serious that it could spell the end of human civilisation. A new epoch has dawned; the Age of the eBook, and it is a dark age, full of misery, famine, greed, hunger, war, pestilience and death.

Sir Nigel Winterbum, the respected editor, publisher and philanthropist, has worked in publishing for over one hundred years. He sees dark days ahead. 'The eBook is killing publishing,' he told me this morning from his farmhouse near Tunbridge Wells. 'Look at the Top 100 Amazon Kindle chart. Some of the books there have never been professionally edited, they've never been marketed. It's preposterous to think that the public can decide what makes a bestseller. The British people can't possibly be expected to read a book and make their own minds up about whether it's any good.'

Insiders predict that within five years the cosy and rather splendid world of book publishing will have disappeared altogether. 'It's ridiculous,' says Sir Nigel. 'We're looking at the very possibility that writers will be publishing books themselves and making money. Who in the name of all fuck do they think they are? First we had the abolition of slavery, then women got the vote, and now this. It's an outrage!'

Publishing insiders are looking at a situation where writers distribute directly to the public, and with the public completely unable to judge for itself what makes a decent book, total chaos is taking over. 'What right have writers to make money without us?' one such publishing insider told me this afternoon. 'The lunatics haven't so much taken over the asylum, they've started writing about the asylum and publishing it without checking with us whether or not we approve. It's shocking.'

Experts predict that within ten years of the rise of eBooks, publishing will implode, all decent writers will retire and start working at Tesco, 99% of books will be written in a sweat shop in Dagenham, the moral fibre of planet earth will vanish, moral outrage will spread like the plague, and as a result the plague will spread like the plague and flesh will fall off the faces of children as young as five. Within two decades everyone will be dead and behemoth cockroaches from Florida will rule the earth.

'If these writers think they're actually going to earn money, they're fooling themselves,' said Sir Nigel. 'Consider the complete collapse of the music business. People point to Adele's £4m tax bill as an indication that people still pay for music, but what they don't realise is that she was paying that tax for money earned on her weekend job in Boots.'

Faced with the impending apocalypse, Sir Nigel is certain that there is only one way to avert imminent crisis and an elimination of the human race.

'If you see someone reading a eBook,' he told me, 'grab it off them and burn it. Burn the eBook reader! If needs be, burn the person reading the book. This outrage must end or chaos will grip the earth. We stand on the precipice of oblivion.'

As the influence of the eBook grows, stock markets are in chaos, governments fall and the world is on the brink of a fiery decent into Hell. Death will find us all.