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Amazon Publishing Acquires Avalon Books

4 June 2012

From the Amazon Media Room:

Amazon.com, Inc. and Avalon Books today announced that Amazon Publishing has acquired the publication rights from Avalon Books to over 3,000 backlist titles predominantly in the Romance, Mystery and Western categories. Established in 1950 by Thomas Bouregy, Avalon Books has long been a home to writers specializing in wholesome entertainment across popular genres, such as Holly Jacobs, Carolyn Hughey and Carolyn Brown, whose book “The Ladies’ Room” is nominated for a 2012 RITA by the Romance Writers of America.

“I’ve been running Avalon Books–which was founded by my father–since 1995, and it is time for me to explore the next chapter of my life,” said Ellen Bouregy Mickelsen, Publisher of Avalon Books. “I chose Amazon Publishing because they care deeply about the writers, readers, and categories that have long mattered to our family business and they are uniquely positioned to assure that our titles make the leap forward into the digital future. I am pleased they have asked me to assist during a period of transition to provide continuity and support for our authors.”

. . . .

Avalon books will be published under the West Coast imprints of Amazon Publishing, including Montlake Romance and Thomas & Mercer. These books will continue to be available in print for booksellers and libraries nationwide. Ms. Mickelsen will be assisting for several months to support a smooth transition for authors and to help secure eBook amendments for some of the older Avalon titles whose digital rights are not owned by Avalon, with the intention of bringing these books to a wider audience.

Link to the rest at The Amazon Media Room

Amazon, Romance

38 Comments to “Amazon Publishing Acquires Avalon Books”

  1. I don’t recall if any of my favorite books are Avalon books, but as a reader, this excites me a lot. I believe that Amazon is likely to get a lot of good out of print books back into print, and do it for a price I can afford.

    • I’m excited too because I’m pretty sure some of my favorite books were from Avalon back in the 80s and 90s.

      • WESTERNS!

        Real Westerns that aren’t erotica in disguise! (Oops, sorry – I’m still peeved about an e-book I bought at full price to find it was erotica. Grrr.)

        And I remember a number of Avalon romances that I liked.

        This is good new for readers!

        And it might not be bad news for writers either!

  2. Yippee!

    Avalon has been limping along for years. With the one book I did for them, I had 5 editors in 18 months. They did a terrible cover for my book and I withdrew the second book I submitted because being published by them was an exercise in futility. They printed enough books to sell to cover their costs but never enough so you’d earn royalties. This was early 2010 and I thought I could do no worse on my own than being tied to them. Writers have been begging for their rights back in order to ebook them for years and Ellen’s refused. Maybe Amazon will find a way to get those books into digital format or give the rights back to the writers.

    All that said, Avalon writers wrote lovely, sweet, entertaining books that appeal to all age groups and Amazon is fortunate to have that backlist. Make those available and there is a market for them, no question in my mind.

  3. From Ellen Mickelsen

    Dear Avalon Authors,

    I have significant news to share with you today: I am happy to report that I’ve concluded a transaction that includes the sale of the entire catalog of publication rights to the Avalon Books list to Amazon Publishing. Please see the attached announcement or click below for more details.

    Most importantly, this means that going forward, your book(s) will have a wonderful publisher with potent resources and unique outreach to readers that may provide very rich opportunities in expanding the audience for your work. This opportunity was most appealing to Amazon Publishing for one simple reason: the quality of the authors whose work has defined and made Avalon Books into what it is today. Amazon Publishing is interested in publishing books in print format, but also – most significantly – on their Kindle platforms. I hope you agree that this is an excellent positioning of what we have created together as the publishing business undergoes changes of a profound, transformational nature. Within that context, I can genuinely say that I cannot imagine a better company to be the heirs to the Avalon Books legacy.

    I have been in close contact with the team at Amazon Publishing and am happy to say that they’ve asked me to stay on for six months to help facilitate a smooth transition. In that time we will be working to publish all the frontlist titles that are currently ready to go as well as preparing to convert titles for digital sale. All authors for whom we have conventional or email addresses will be receiving a welcome packet from Amazon Publishing sent the week of June 11. I’m sure this packet will answer many of the questions you will have had time to put together in the ensuing week. As you know, I am always eager to speak to you; however, if you do need to contact me in the weeks ahead, please do so via email. I’m also happy to say we expect that Su Wu will continue to help during this transition.

    Regrettably, we do not have all author email addresses; so for that reason, I encourage you to please pass this message on to any Avalon author you feel might not have received one.

    I extend to you my deepest appreciation for all the tremendous support you have given to Avalon Books over the years. You have been the heart and soul of the company, without whom we could not have succeeded. It has been an honor and privilege to work with all of you.

    Warmest best wishes,

    Ellen

  4. Hey, you’re going against the narrative. Don’t you know that Amazon is AWFUL for publishing? What, picking up a struggling house and trying to make it profitable? Come on, there must be an evil subtext here.

    • The some Avalon writers are up in arms already. They want to get together and strategize. What? Strategize against Amazon? Good luck with that.

      Okay, I understand now our rights are transfered to another company. But they/we didn’t have those rights anyway. Now we’re with a company that pays writers. Someone explain the problem to me. Having Montlake or Thomas and Mercer see my name? That’s bad, how?

    • Awww – do we HAVE to play the music from Jaws again? How about Tubular Bells from the Exorcist instead? I’m SO tired of ‘Jaws’ – PLEASE????

      • Tubular Bells, to this day, can still creep me out. I was about fourteen when The Exorcist came out, and it scared the you-know-what out of me. My best friend and I saw it together, and she was so scared she made me sleep over. Except she really, REALLY looked like Linda Blair. So when I woke up in the middle of the night, sleeping right next to me was–Linda Blair. (We couldn’t sleep without leaving the lights on.)

        Ah, teenage days. So glad they’re long, long behind me.

  5. It will certainly p*** off the Amazon Haters who will add it to their “Amazon is gonna eat the world” theme.

  6. I’m assuming all their contracts stay the same? And that all those contracts have digital rights and royalties spelled out?

    • I imagine Amazon will want to put them under their standard, which is probably better.

      • They might want to, but it ain’t that easy.

        Every name in a contract has a (usually unstated) “or it’s successors” clause attached. An author who had a contract with Avalon now has a contract with Amazon, with the only difference being the names. That’s part of what Amazon paid for when it bought the company.

    • It will be interesting to see if amazon will revise the royalty payments for existing authors.
      Either way I’d expect that Avalon’s authors will see a jump in payments as I don’t think that amazon would buy 3,000 books they weren’t expecting to sell.

    • No, the older contract pre-2003 don’t spell out digital rights. I’m an Avalon author with one of the old contracts. I own the digital rights and always have because they aren’t spelled out in the contract.

      • It will be interesting to see what offer amazon will make for your eBook rights. I’m assuming that Amazon bough the publisher because they want the back-list titles on kindle.
        I’m also assuming that there might be quite a few other publishers that were too small for the big 6 to bother with(is 3,000 books a small back-list). Will amazon start making other offers?

  7. I can hear the critics now: Amazon is eeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeevil!

  8. I’m going to be the Devil’s advocate here: If I was an Avalon author, I would be furious. The quality of the Amazon imprint contracts is irrelevant–it’s an issue of choice. The authors weren’t given any say in the matter; their rights were just handed over in bulk. What if they didn’t /want/ to be published by Amazon? What if they would prefer their rights to revert so they could self-publish instead, or take them somewhere else? Saying, “They didn’t have those rights anyway,” or, “Now they might get decent royalties,” is meek justification for what was, essentially, a bitch move.

    Think about it this way: would we be jumping for joy if the news was that Avalon had been absorbed by Random House or HarperCollins? “Oh, well, the authors didn’t have those rights anyway, and now they’re with a company with more cash and better distribution.” No, we’d be incensed that the Big Six were pushing the powerless writers around. But if it’s /Amazon/, it’s a different matter entirely. Amazon is being /generous/ by taking their rights. HarperCollins would be a sadistic villain forcing an arranged marriage on an innocent girl; Amazon is a handsome hero doing the same thing, and is therefore loveable instead of despicable.

    No, I don’t think Amazon is eeeeeevil. I’m a self-publisher through and through. But the same principles that drove me to /choose/ to self-publish make me angry about moves like this. The writers didn’t have any choice. If Amazon is as author-friendly as we’d like to believe, they will give them a choice. They’d better revert the rights of the authors who ask, or I would question the assumption that Amazon could /never/ become as corrupt as traditional publishers.

    • Dozen’s upon dozen’s of companies have been absorbed by the Big6. I didn’t think they were evil for doing it. It’s no more evil than if Target puchases Bestbuy.

    • I started with Atheneum. They bonded with Scribners. Did they ask me? Why, no, they didn’t. Then they were taken over by Macmillan. Again, no one consulted me. Then they were taken over by Holtzbrinck (I think I have that right). No one asked me if I was good with it. I can’t even say that I noticed and had to look it up on Wikipedia.

      I signed with Avalon and knew I was essentially doing something very stupid but in that month (2008 whatever)having an adult hardcover in print was a seal of approval for the tradpub community. So signed the crappy contract, took the lousy $1000, and threw my book on a sword so agents would stop accusing me “You’ve never had an adult novel published.”

      If my fellow authors, very nice ladies BTW, think that writing a novel KNOWING you will never make more than the advance and never selling in a bookstore, is better that being published by the most forward thinking company in well…anywhere, I’m sorry they’re upset. They went from being ****-****** to legitimized. Me? I’m thrilled.

      These books are dead. The entire backlist of Avalon. Do we understand that? Dead. Amazon comes along and gives that work a life and opportunity Avalon never did and people have their panties in a twist.

      The only thing I will ask of Amazon when they contact me is “Please put Barbara Morgenroth on the cover instead of my pen name Robin O’Neill because I am SO not embarrassed to be published by Amazon and I was mortified to be published by Avalon.”

    • I don’t know for sure, but their contracts prolly say “and their successors.” Meaning, it’s in the contract the auhors signed that the company could be sold willy-nilly to your crazy Aunt Harriet if they wanted to. The authors signed that contract. One would assume they did not do so at shotgun-point (to carry on with your forced marriage analogy). Avalon simply carried out one of the things the contract said they could do (remember, it’s a BUSINESS, not a marriage). Authors protesting that make themselves sound like, well, let’s just say “hysterical virgins”, if you want to keep up that whole wedding night analogy, instead of intelligent business people who read the contract before they signed it.

      • Agreed, Kat.

        There may have been an assignment clause that also allowed for assignment of the publishing contracts in the event of a sale of Avalon.

        A lesson for authors is that when you sign a typical publishing contract, you’re agreeing that you’ll be obligated to whomever the publisher sells or assigns your contract and they’ll own the rights to your book.

        Typically under those circumstances, all the informal “we would never do that” understandings go out the window and you’re left with the express language of the contract.

        • *nod* As I’ve said before, first time I signed a work-for-hire contract, the fellow on the other side said: “We could be bought out by [other company] and this would be the contract. Make sure you’re happy with it!”

          That said, I will indeed be watching to see what Amazon says if any of these authors want their rights reverted. It will be a learning experience.

    • Well, this is what happened to a bunch of top tier Dorchester authors in 2010–they were sold off to HarperCollins without (in Regency speak) a by your leave. http://dearauthor.com/features/industry-news/monday-midday-news-roundup-dorchester-sells-its-backlist/

  9. Oh no – we will all be eaten by – whatstheirname again – the evil corp? Once it was MS. Then Apple. HP when it merged with Compaq. News Corp when it was acquiring titles. Now either one of the ‘Big 6′ or Amazon? Writers who don’t realize they are in a business world are going to complain – those who do understand – will carry on writing. It doesn’t matter who takes over which company – it happens. Back to work.

  10. I am in search of a book on the family history of the Kersey family in Georgia. I found one writen by Thomas Kersey, it was about 46 pages but now I cant find it again.
    Is there any way you might could find it for me. It was listed as out of print.

    thank you,
    Nancy

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