Amazon: Friend or Foe of Book Publishers?
Everyone knows that Amazon.com sells lots of books. In fact, a recent Los Angeles Times article reports the Seattle-based company now accounts for 22 percent of the total U.S. book sales for key stores, thumping rivals Barnes & Noble and Borders. And that’s just print books; Amazon’s share of the fast-growing e-book market jumped to a whopping 90 percent as of last year, according to the Author’s Guild.
The Author’s Guild and others have sounded the alarm over Amazon’s dominance of book sales, arguing the company has become a near monopolist. This controversy over its retailing practices has often obscured its forays into the publishing world, which are of particular interest for authors, aspiring and otherwise. To learn more about these programs, I invited Jon Fine, director of author & publisher relations for Amazon, to speak to my winter Seattle writing class. Fine provided a fascinating overview of Amazon’s publishing programs.
“We saw this ability for people to write and make their voice heard,” says Fine. “I embrace the idea that everyone should have the ability to express themselves. We have a wealth of tools and services for authors at any point in the career, or any point in the life cycle of a book. Whether you’re an aspiring author, or you’ve published in digital or in print, at any point in that spectrum we hope to have something to help you with.”
Fine discussed Amazon’s three publishing programs in detail. For more, see the forthcoming issue of The Writer’s Workshop Review, www.thewritersworkshopreview.net.