Amazon Publishing: The Good, The Bad and the Undecided

L. McMaken
8-9-11
Cincinnati, OH

Amazon Publishing which launched earlier this year, has been quietly moving forward, much too quietly for some in the publishing industry. There have been no announcements of staff, whether the headquarters will be located in Seattle or New York, and no mention of operational structure. Although Amazon is a bookselling powerhouse, as a publisher, it is considered a “start-up” business, and many agents, distributors and booksellers want to know more before becoming involved.

Amazon’s “imprints” now include AmazonEncore, AmazonCrossings, Montlake Romance, Thomas & Mercer, and Powered by Amazon. At this stage, booksellers are not ordering from them and many of them don’t even know who at Amazon is handling their outside accounts. Vice President, Jeff Belle of Amazon stated that the usual distributors, Ingram and B&T would be distributing, but also noted that Amazon will be handling it as well.

Agents, in a Publishers Weekly article are particularly concerned with one undisclosed agent saying,”I’d rather deal with a firm that is well established.” However, the same article pointed out that if Amazon offers better royalties than other publishing houses, agents and authors will be forced to do business with them.

Brick and mortar book stores too are feeling uneasy about the bookseller becoming a publishing house. They are already having a difficult time competing against Amazon selling books, and now they would be expected to carry titles produced by them. Many have said they would not stock their titles and would only order from them at a customer’s request.

Until more information is forthcoming from Amazon, agents, publishers, booksellers, authors and readers can only speculate as to their long range publishing plans.

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