Thursday, April 7, 2011

The Game Changes

Various sources are reporting two separate developments that, combined, initiate the next stage in the evolution of publishing. Not surprisingly, both involve Amazon. I wrote about self-publishing star, Amanda Hocking, whose four-book YA dystopian series was sold at auction for over $2 million a couple of weeks ago. Apparently Amazon was an underbidder in that auction, losing out, it is speculated,  because Amazon wanted to retain exclusive distribution rights for the ebooks. While Amazon has something like 60% of the ebook market, that leaves 40% untapped by an exclusive arrangement, not chicken feed for an author with Hocking's track in the ebook world. Okay, so you win a few and you lose a few. Amazon doesn't lose many. The other deal that is being reported is that Houghton Harcourt will distribute selected Amazon titles in bookstores! That's right, the world's largest bookstore has arranged with a traditional publisher to distribute its titles, which heretofore were only available from, in bookstores. What these two developments mean is that Amazon is now ready, willing, and able to compete directly with traditional publishers on their home ground, i.e. bookstore distribution. To me that sounds a lot like a bell tolling, albeit quietly and in the distance.

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