Monday, October 17, 2011

Amazon Eliminates the Middleman

Amazon has almost put both independent bookstores and chain bookstores out of business. Are publishers Amazon's next victim? The New York Times is reporting that Amazon has gone into the publishing business. This fall it plans to publish 122 books "in an array of genres, in both physical and e-book form. It is a striking acceleration of the retailer's fledging publishing program that will place Amazon squarely in competition with the New York houses that are also its most prominent suppliers." It is unclear to me whether Amazon will offer its authors the traditional services offered by publishers, i.e., editing and marketing, although the Times article states that Amazon is "gnawing away at the services that publishers, critics and agents used to provide." Traditional publishers have already cut back on editing (it's rare these days to read anything that wouldn't benefit from careful copy editing), so it's likely that authors won't lose much if they publish with Amazon. And the article points to efforts already under way by authors to market their work themselves, so they won't miss the marketing campaigns of traditional publishers as much as they would have in the days before authors and their readers could communicate directly. The article quotes Russell Grandinetti, an Amazon executive: "'The only really necessary people in the publishing process now are the writer and reader ... Everyone who stands between those two has both risk and opportunity.'" One question left unanswered by the Times article is royalties. It seems reasonable to assume that by forgoing the services of the traditional publishers and opting for Amazon, authors should be able to bargain for more generous compensation.

1 comment:

Marie S. Newman said...

Further reporting on Amazon's foray into publishing is at the following URL: