A couple of days ago, I tweeted about a Mike Shatzkin blog post discussing a major hire by Amazon.
Late last week, you’ll recall Amazon announced a new mystery imprint, Thomas & Mercer Books, and announced Joe Konrath was one if its first authors.
Earlier this week, Amazon announced that former Time Warner Publishing CEO Larry Kirshbaum will head up a new general trade imprint for them. Kirshbaum is a serious heavyweight in big publishing.
Mike is much more nuanced about what this means, but Passive Guy concludes Amazon wants to take on Big Publishing and print some books of its own to sell. Barnes & Noble has made some moves indicating it might want to sort of take on Big Publishing.
Who will win in the Amazon vs. Legacy Publishing?
Readers. I think readers will win because Amazon has price competition built into its DNA and will continue to push prices lower.
Authors. Not all authors, but some authors will win because increased competition for authors means increased income for authors. Amazon has hired a big name CEO and the big name CEO will hire some big name authors. As the Joe Konrath deal demonstrates, however, some authors who have been midlisters with big publishing will also have promotional jets strapped on their books.
Indie Authors. Who is better-positioned than Amazon to identify hot indie authors? PG’s crystal ball says if you sell a bunch of Kindle books, somebody at Amazon is likely to notice. With a serious traditional Amazon publishing arm, if you want to go that route, your chances of being discovered will improve. People who write good stories will become more and more valuable.
Excerpts from Mike Shatzkin:
Konrath complained in a blog post over the weekend that independent bookstores planned to boycott the Thomas & Mercer imprint. It would appear Konrath (who, in his pre-ebook-evangelist days worked hard to promote through independents) took very personally what was meant to be resistance to Amazon.
One would suspect that the books Kirshbaum is going to acquire will be very hard for any bookseller that wants to serve and keep her customers to avoid stocking. In other words, the Kirshbaum signing might have cured Konrath’s concern.
. . . .
Five years ago we lived in a world where every book that mattered sold more copies at brick stores than it did online. Five years from now every book that matters will sell more copies online than it does in a brick store. The Amazon decision may mark the commercial turning point of that massive shift.
The edge in maximizing online sales revenues will go to the publisher that can manage online pricing and marketing most effectively. That not only means raising and lowering prices dynamically to get the most possible revenue, it might also mean experimenting with free sample sizes to see what delivers the best rate of conversion to a sale. It certainly also means having the best list of potential readers to alert to a book’s publication.
Publishers have a steep hill to climb to develop skills in that regard that Amazon has been honing for years. The announcement of Bookish, a community and information site for readers, seems like a weak counterweight to this Amazon announcement. I would imagine Kirshbaum will have signed away a few books the Big Six publishers wanted before Bookish even opens its doors.
Link to the rest at Mike Shatzkin