Tag Archives: amazon

Amazon Gets Into Books Seriously

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.

Ebooks vs Print Sales

Like with Michael Orthofer’s site, the large majority of books being purchased through links on this site continue to be print, although electronic format has steadily risen. This despite Amazon’s new claim that it now sells more electronic books than print.

Like Michael, I can’t explain why my site stats don’t reflect this, though I think it has something to do with the few megabestsellers (like The Millennium Trilogy) that have taken off in electronic format. I’m guessing that those are driving the majority of Amazon’s ebook sales, as well as Amazon Singles and perhaps Amazon construing subscriptions to blogs and such as “books.” (I don’t know that they do this, but wouldn’t put it past them.)

Other than that, I would guess that people who really, rally like books still prefer print books to ebooks. I certainly read my share of electronic books these days, but they’ve never felt “real” to me in the sense that print books do. My go-to example is that if I read an ebook and really like it, I will immediately go out and buy a print version of it to have in my library. Probably people who see books as more of commodities and time-killers won’t have that same perception and will tend to be happy with the electronic version, particularly since the gratification is truly instant now and the price tends to be lower.


The Surrender is Veronica Scott Esposito’s “collection of facts” concerning how she embraced her true gender.


Two long essays of 10,000 words each on sex in—and out of—literature . . .

The first essay dives in to Nicholson Baker’s “sex trilogy,” explaining just what Baker is up to here and why these books ultimately fail to be as sexy as Baker might wish.

From there the book moves on to the second essay, which explains just why Spaniard Javier Marías does right what Baker does wrong . . .


5 essays. 2 interviews.

All in all, over 25,000 words of Latin American literary goodness.

3 never-before-published essays, including “The Digression”—a 4,000-word piece on the most important digression in César Aira’s career.

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