The Bookseller is reporting on reactions from BookExpo America to Amazon’s choice of former TimeWarner CEO turned agent Laurence Kirshbaum to head up its publishing division. Independent booksellers were fairly optimistic, some suspecting Amazon might even offer them better deals than chain bookstores due to potential pushback from chains who see Amazon as their chief competitor. Publishers were more worried, however, fearing that the Amazon move could reduce competition.
Agent Richard Curtis, who also runs E-Reads, said:
"However, because of Amazon’s dominant retail position, their wealth and leverage could have a dampening effect on competition. B&N’s publishing has had that effect: as an agent, I’ll call a publisher and pitch a non-fiction project. ‘We’d love to do it,’ they’ll tell me, and then add, ‘but we know Sterling [Barnes & Noble’s publishing subsidiary] will undercut on price for the same kind of book."
And Amazon seems poised to go after the biggest names in frontlist fiction. We saw some of that already, when it placed a hefty bid on self-publishing star Amanda Hocking’s 4-book offer. There is some worry from the IPDF panel that some major publishers might not be around for very much longer.
We are in for interesting times, to be sure, but even as the publishing industry changes, there will still be demand for books in some form. Sooner or later, things will reach another equilibrium, but it’s anybody’s guess what that will look like or when it will happen.