getting into publishing

Amazon News…Expanding Into Publishing

The article below is from PW, and here’s the link. I heard about this on the down low a while ago and I’ve been waiting to see how long it would take for the buzz to begin.

At this point, all I can say is it sounds interesting. If nothing else, it marks yet another huge change in the publishing industry.

Montlake Romance Marks Tip of Amazon’s Expansion Into Publishing
By Rachel Deahl
May 04, 2011
| Reader Comments 1

With the news that Amazon is expanding its publishing arm, launching in the fall Montlake Romance (with plans to deepen its category-publishing to mystery, science fiction and thrillers), many in the publishing business have been talking about the company’s hiring strategies. And agents have been eyeing the unfolding process closely, trying to gauge whether the retailer will become as viable a place for their books as the legacy houses.

For weeks job openings at Amazon, in both editorial and publicity, have been posted online, offering positions in Seattle and New York. Rumors have surfaced that the company is opening a New York office and is on the hunt for a high-level executive to be publisher of its expanded publishing wing. Amazon did not return e-mails inquiring about the expansion Wednesday afternoon.

A number of sources inside the publishing houses said there was a sour feeling about the way Amazon has, to this point, gone about its employee search. The company sent a form letter to a number of senior executives, some within the same publisher, inquiring if they would be interested in working for Amazon. While some sources scoffed at the respect a suite of Amazon imprints could establish in the industry—one insider said Amazon will likely be left with a “proprietary bookseller-publisher pretty far down on the food chain of quality publishers”—agents were less inflammatory.

One agent noted that Amazon is uniqeuly positioned to promote authors and books in a way traditional houses are not—through content on its Web site well as by tapping into information about its customers’ book-buying habits. This agent said that, for this reason, there is a certain appeal to selling a book to them. He then noted though that “when any new publishing company or imprint is created I generally like to wait and see how they’re going to do before placing my authors’ intellectual property there.”

Questions also persist about what Amazon will do in the way of distribution. If it handles its own fulfillment, or hires a traditional distributor, it is unclear whether print books from Amazon would find their way into Barnes & Noble or the independents, since both see the company as their most significant competition. While one source said it would be presumptive to assume that B&N wouldn’t stock a book simply because Amazon published it, other sources added that, for the right title, having no distribution in B&N or the independents wouldn’t be prohibitively damaging for sales anyway.

Another insider said he thinks it was inevitable that Amazon expand its influence in the publishing sphere and that the company will likely start to “acquire big names in the editorial ranks as well as make runs at big authors.” He then added: “And I think agents would sell to them, especially since they’ll probably spend big money.”

Amazon has proven recently that, for the right author, it is willing to pay big money. After St. Martin’s Press closed a reported $4 million four-book deal with self-publishing sensation Amanda Hocking, word leaked that Amazon had put in a competitive bid in an an attempt to land the author.

“They probably know enough about the book business by now to do as well, or better, than the old school houses,” said another agent, acknowledging that he would probably sell a book to Amazon. Of course, as the previous insider guessed, it may come down to money on the table. Yet another agent said: “The big question is whether Amazon will pay advances, and at what level. And, of course, what will their tolerance of risk be as a publisher.”