Is it All Fear And Loathing in The Publishing World?

There has been quite a lot of discussion over the weekend about Amazon’s positioning in the publishing world in the light of the resolved dispute with Macmillan. The words threat and fear are in ample supply from Henry Porter in the Guardian UK, Eoin Purcell on Green Lamp Media’s blog, and again in a piece from Telereads.
Amazon’s core business may be as an online retailer, but no one should underestimate the strength they have in the market or how much they are prepared to develop as an actual publisher of electronic and paper content.
I think we need to be a little more dynamic in our thinking of Amazon as a publisher. Is Amazon making plans to dip their feet into the expensive and expansive waters of editing and marketing original material? No. I’m still not convinced they are. Certainly they will continue to expand their AmazonEncore program (9 titles) and it looks like we can expect plenty more throughout 2010 and beyond. The area I believe Amazon is really looking to exploit is the deals they have done with Paulo Coelho and Stephen Covey to sell ebook editions of their titles. Now, that is something to scare large publishers.
You can bet every major publisher is revising their contracts with bestselling authors with particular attention to ebooks, a format greatly they greatly underestimated the true value of over the past few years.
If publishers perceive a threat from Amazon – it is less about Amazon becoming a publisher – more about authors deciding to cut publishers out of the equation when it comes to ebooks and deal directly with Amazon. And yes, we may see the day when authors – beyond just self-publishers – decide to do the same with their paper editions.

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