In a nutshell, Amazon started out as a book retailer, a company that was arguably a friend to book publishers, since it expanded the market for many of their books. But increasingly, the web giant is becoming a competitor to those traditional publishers.
Amazons fundamental stragegy, in retail as in publishing is to lowering the barriers between authors and readers, as in many cases, the biggest barrier between authors and readers is a traditional publisher (if you waited 2 1/2 years for the second part of the King Killer trilogy like me you know what I’m talking about). Until that changes, Amazon will continue to win.
Amazon has signed deals with a number of prominent authors and sold millions of copies. Self publishing via Amazon means getting past some of the legacy processes that are typical with traditional publishers, and expanding the potential market for a book. The core of the problem confronting the industry is summed up in a comment by Amazon executive Russell Grandinetii in the NYT piece, in which he says:
The only really necessary people in the publishing process now are the writer and reader. Everyone who stands between those two has both risk and opportunity.
‘If you look at … Barry Eisler … It’s the other terms of the deal that he was swayed by: for example, the fact that Amazon was going to come out with an e-book version within a matter of days after the book was finished, and then follow that quickly with a paperback — and that both were going to be sold at a cheaper price, instead of the traditional industry’s approach of trying to charge print prices for electronic books.
What I care about is readers, because without readers I can’t make a living [and] I want people to read a lot. To that end, if I can find a way to get readers books that cost less and are delivered better and faster, I want that.’
Guess there are hard times comming up for book publishers…