Wednesday, August 17, 2011

Amazon is moving forward to become a publisher - Is it good or bad for publishers and readers?

The New York Times has a story today on the growing efforts of Amazon to publish books. Amazon is for a long time much more than a book seller, but apparently its efforts to establish itself as a publisher are getting many publishers and other players in the book industry worried. Amazon, they fear is becoming too big and too strong and will be able soon to take bigger and bigger bites out of the market.

According to the article Amazon publishing books is not news as it has been publishing books for several years. Its efforts went up several notches in visibility when it brought in the longtime New York editor and agent Laurence Kirshbaum three months ago as head of Amazon Publishing, but this is not the news either. The news is that Amazon announced yesterday
that Amazon Publishing's made its first major acquisition - it has signed Timothy Ferriss, the wildly popular self-help guru for young men.

Ferriss, the press release added is author of the #1 New York Times best sellers "The 4-Hour Body" and "The 4-Hour Workweek". He will publish with Amazon Publishing the next book in his "4-hour" series, "The 4-Hour Chef."

Ferriss explained that "My decision to collaborate with Amazon Publishing wasn't just a question of which publisher to work with," said Tim Ferriss. "It was a question of what future of publishing I want to embrace. My readers are migrating irreversibly into digital, and it made perfect sense to work with Amazon to try and redefine what is possible. This is a chance to really show what the future of books looks like, and to deliver a beautiful experience to my readers, who always come first. I could not be more excited about what we're doing."

On the NYT article Ferriss added two interesting observations:

"Amazon has a one-to-one relationship with every one of their customers. You can just imagine the possibilities that opens up.”


“The opportunity to partner with a technology company that is embracing publishing is very different than partnering with a publisher embracing technology."

Basically, Ferriss is saying that Amazon is better geared to be a publisher in the digital age than other publishers, providing readers a better reading experience and authors with better chances to sell more books. Is it true? It's not clear yet, but Amazon's technological capabilities and customer engagement experience give them a substantial advantage in the age of multi-reading platforms.

Should publishers be worried? Yes and No. Yes, because Amazon can create value for authors publishers can't and authors know it. No, because publishers also have added value and experience and if they will know to adjust themselves to the new technological demands of the market and readers they can still give Amazon a good fight.

Bottom line: Although this step might make publishers' life more difficult, it has the potential to move everyone forward and eventually readers will only benefit from it, as they will have more options and enjoy an enhanced reading experience.

Raz @ Eco-Libris

Eco-Libris: Plant trees for your books!