Thursday, May 05, 2011

Amazon Takes Another Step to Join the Publishing Pieces

There verticals that deal with niche markets and offer everything to do with that particular market or segment, the butcher, the baker and the candlestick maker. There are other vertical businesses that effectively cover all the bases from creation to consumption. There are the generalists who offer a range of products and specialise in one aspect of the respective supply chain. Finally there are the category killers who monopolise a particular segment by a service feature, product or other unique and compelling offer and stifle the competition.

So what has this to do with publishing? yesterday announced the launch of Montlake Romance. It’s not the first but the fourth and latest imprint from Amazon Publishing. We saw with Harlequin the early adoption of the romance genre in ebooks and with resent research claiming that there are more women ereaders than men, romance looks a safe ebook bet. Montlake Romance takes its name from the Seattle neighbourhood of Montlake, and will publish a range romance sub-genres such as suspense, contemporary, historic, fantasy and paranormal.

Amazon, as we have long predicted, is now morphing into a true vertical that not only offers a comprehensive range of print, audio and ebooks, a digital platform, self publishing, print on demand, exclusive and no exclusive author deals, a global service, a fledgling library / rental / lending facility, a public library tie up with Overdrive and brand, but now also growing publisher services. Have we missed anything? Well there is their technology which now includes cloud facilities, other media activities, huge customer base, affiliate service and market clout.

We ask ourselves as to when do agents start to consider Amazon as a publisher?

Amazon has proved many times that it now understands the book business and is constantly figuring out how to do it smarter. Many still believe that it must follow the traditional route, but Amazon has cherry picked its route and somewhat wisely has avoided the high risk and speculative road. It has invested heavily, but in doing things smarter and avoided the publishing gambles that litter the market. After all, they know they can sell these if they are winners and avoid them if they are losers.

They have instead chosen to focus on building a comprehensive platform from author to reader. The information that they have is significant and their ability to link authors, titles and readers within their own environment can’t be underestimated. As publishers struggle to build a direct market Amazon are building back up the chain to capture content and rights.

In less that a month Amazon have strategically partnered with Overdrive on public libraries and now has taken its next baby step with Montlake. We doubt that those who feared the domination of Amazon in the past as a retailer have seen the reality and potential of a vertical category killer in the future.

1 comment:

Thad McIlroy, The Future of Publishing said...

This is the best analysis of Amazon from the publishing perspective I've yet seen. I've been angry at Jeff Bezos for his sometimes-misleading promotion of e-reading. Who knew? It turns out that he was right and it's exactly what people want. I guess it took someone from outside of publishing to show us how our business really works. If every book publishing course is the Western world just focused on the "case study of" the students would be far better equipped for employment than with their current curriculum. Your post is an excellent overview.