Amazon will publish 122 books this fall in both print and e-book formats as part of their effort to compete directly against the very same New York houses that supply the company’s books and e-books.
Run by publishing veteran Laurence Kirshbaum the new Amazon publishing venture is set to publish both fiction and nonfiction books and recently signed their first deal with author Tim Ferriss. Amazon also recently announced a new book agreement from director Penny Marshall, an offering they gladly paid $800,000 to secure.
While most publishers refuse to speak about the deal Dennis Loy Johnson of Melville House told the New York Times:
“Publishers are terrified and don’t know what to do.”
Richard Curtis, a longtime e-book publisher added:
“Everyone’s afraid of Amazon,” and “If you’re a bookstore, Amazon has been in competition with you for some time. If you’re a publisher, one day you wake up and Amazon is competing with you too. And if you’re an agent, Amazon may be stealing your lunch because it is offering authors the opportunity to publish directly and cut you out.
Amazon for their part has kept their business model secretive, refusing even to reveal how many editors and other publishing employees they currently employ.
Old fashioned book publishers have reason to be worried, Amazon through their proprietary systems have managed to do what other publishers haven’t been able to accomplish, such as giving them Nielsen BookScan sales data while cutting out middlemen who eat into an authors profit margin.
As the Times points out, “It made an obscure German historical novel a runaway best seller without a single professional reviewer weighing in.”
Publishers have reason to worry especially if they continue to stick with their old archaic ways for doing business, this new venture could quickly do to old media book publishers what new media has done to old media newspapers and magazine publishers.