The thing that many of us publishing types have long speculated about has finally happened. Amazon is doing a general trade imprint and trying to poach authors. Moby Lives has the snarky overview:
A Crain‘s report notes that Amazon has been looking for someone to head the effort for months, and “High on its wish list was someone with connections to bestselling authors that the new imprint could effectively poach, helping to jumpstart its business and make books from the company a must-have even for brick-and-mortar players that consider Amazon their archrival.”
Calling the move “a full-on assault of publishers across many of their publishing markets,” Michael Wolf observes in a column for GigaOm that “Amazon has essentially become a book industry ‘in a box’, having completed the vertical integration of the book industry by launching their own imprints.” And with the news about Kirshbaum, he says, “that box has just gotten a whole lot bigger.”
This is obviously a big deal, although how much of a big deal remains to be seen. As we’ve already witnessed with the Amazon Kindle price wars and Andrew Wylie’s Odyssey Editions, it’s not at all clear that the publishing industry will sit by as Amazon takes the best of its talent.
That said, if Amazon gets a large chunk of said talent, things begin to change substantially. And by “talent” I mean known commodities who sell well, not necessarily great authors. For the latter, I imagine most of them will continue publishing with small and moderately large presses, and for those entities things probably won’t change all that much. It’ll just be a different house poaching the authors that they spend years bringing along into a something borderline marketable/profitable.