Amazon’s Major Publishing Move

Amazon, which recently added publishing to its businesses, just made a major, attention-getting step by hiring Larry Kirshbaum, former long-time CEO of TimeWarner Book Group (now Hachette Books), one of publishing’s “Big Six” companies, to head up their publishing operations in New York.

Amazon began making inroads into publishing with AmazonEncore, launched in 2009 to identify strong selling digital titles, many of them self-published, to re-edit, market and distribute in both eBook and print format. They quickly added AmazonCrossing, to translate titles into English and just last week announced a two new imprints, Montlake Romance and Thomas & Mercer  mysteries.

These moves worry many in the business; one unnamed publisher told the Wall Street Journal, that Amazon has an unfair marketing advantage;  “They can push their writers to the front and they have a decade of genre purchaser information.” Booksellers, who have long had issues with Amazon, have threatened boycotts of books by authors who publish through Amazon (thriller writer Joe Konrath’s takes strong issue with these tactics on his blog).

Will ebook versions of Amazon titles be available for library lending? Currently, that is a decision made by the authors; Konrath, for instance, recently made a deal to distribute 22 of his titles to libraries through OverDrive. One of the advantages of ebooks for libraries, says Konrath is that, “…unlike print, which wears out, an eBook is forever. It won’t get that crooked spine. You can’t rip the pages. The cover never needs to be replaced.”

Of course, some publishers and authors do not see that as an advantage.

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