Sunday, October 27, 2013

In Publishing, Things Rarely Go As Planned

If you’ve been in the writing/publishing game as long as I have, you’ll know that there has been more change and upheaval than you can probably count. So, when I read two interesting articles about Amazon’s apparent failure to make a splash in the publishing world, I can’t say I was surprised.

Articles in and, state that the publishing venture Amazon announced in May 2011 hasn’t been as successful as they’d hoped. The plan was to provide competition to what was then the Big 6 publishers (now 5), however, but this hasn’t happened. In fact, Larry Kirshbaum, the man hired to make it happen, recently announced that he’ll be leaving Amazon in early 2014. Neither article faults Kirshbaum for Amazon’s failure to make the big splash they’d planned. As former head of the Time-Warner Group and later a literary agent, Kirshbaum certainly knows the American publishing scene but, as so often happens in publishing, unforeseen problems cropped up.

Both articles state that, in part, Barnes & Noble’s (and other indie stores) ban of any Amazon-published books has definitely hurt their bid to make a dent in the New York scene. Furthermore, a Department of Justice ruling earlier this year on e-book pricing, which worked in Amazon’s favor, further angered bookstores, publishers, and some authors. Consequently, Amazon apparently hasn’t been able to entice many big-name, bestselling authors to join them.

Interestingly, of the tens of thousands of authors selling their books through Amazon (both self and traditionally published), the publishing component of the company has yet to create a runaway bestseller. According to the piece, this is odd, given the amount of data Amazon has collected about genre, sales, readers’ tastes, etc.

This isn’t to say that Amazon won’t find a few stars down the road. Kirshbaum was able to sign several celebrities, including Penny Marshall, but apparently her book hasn't sold as well as they'd anticipated. Welcome to the world of publishing Amazon, where there’s plenty of hits and misses, and things rarely go as planned.

You can find the articles at:

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