Does Amazon Want to Monopolize The Entire Publishing Chain?
from the how-much-is-enough? dept
The launch of Amazon's Kindle Fire at a price well below expectations has naturally focused people's attention on the e-book side of Amazon's operations, and the likely effect of the extended Kindle family on other publishers trying to go digital. But something else is happening at the other end of the publishing chain that could well disrupt the industry just as much, if not more: Amazon is becoming a major publisher in its own right.Things began back in May 2009, when it launched AmazonEncore:
a new program whereby Amazon uses information such as customer reviews on Amazon websites to identify exceptional, overlooked books and authors that show potential for greater sales.After this low-key start, Amazon added others imprints, including AmazonCrossing (foreign books in translation), Powered by Amazon (short books), Montlake Romance (romantic fiction), Thomas & Mercer (mysteries and thrillers) and, most recently, 47North (science fiction, fantasy and horror) - the last of these with some eye-catching authors:
47North launches with 15 books, including "The Mongoliad: Book One," the first in the ambitious, five-book, collaborative Foreworld series led by Neal Stephenson and Greg Bear. All of these books will be available to English readers in Kindle, print and audio formats at http://www.amazon.com, as well as at national and independent booksellers. 47North will publish original and previously published works, as well as out-of-print books.Meanwhile, back in May this year, Amazon hired a publishing industry veteran to become VP, Publisher of Amazon Publishing’s New York office:
Amazon.com has taken its most aggressive step yet toward competing head-on with traditional publishers: It’s hired Larry Kirshbaum, a literary agent and the former CEO of Time Warner Publishing Group (now Hachette Book Group), to start a general trade imprint.
Until now, Amazon’s imprints have focused on genre fiction like mystery and romance. By hiring a high-profile industry veteran to focus on “quality books in literary and commercial fiction, business and general nonfiction”—and by releasing those books in both print and digital formats—Amazon is announcing itself as a serious competitor against the “big six” traditional trade publishing houses.Put all these imprints together, plus Amazon's main sales sites around the world and the Kindle e-readers range, and you have a fully-integrated global publishing strategy. It's hard to see how traditional publishers can respond. They may have impressive back catalogs, and established links with leading authors, but Amazon has the distribution network and growing success in e-book publishing. Above all, the trade publishing houses seem to lack Amazon's ambition: it looks like it doesn't just want to make money from the entire publishing chain, it wants be the entire publishing chain. Follow me @glynmoody on Twitter or identi.ca, and on Google+