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Publishing news — Amazon takes on the establishment

Posted on November 13, 2011 by Ed.

It’s a great time to be an author now that digital publishing and Tablets have become so prevalent. The most valuable commodity, what Ayn Rand called “The Fountainhead”, is the source of the creativity from which everything springs—the mind of the author. Until now, however, authors have often been at the sole mercy of agents and faceless publishers holding a thumbs up or thumbs down, and a printed book in a retail store can leave the author to trickle-down returns. The New York Times ran an article in their October 17, 2011 issue with an opening paragraph that may be handwriting on the wall for the old-school publishing industry:

“SEATTLE — Amazon.com has taught readers that they do not need
bookstores. Now it is encouraging writers to cast aside their publishers.”

The article reports that this fall Amazon will publish 122 book in a variety of genres, in both physical and e-book form. As Amazon moves rapidly into the full gamut of publishing, it goes into direct competition with the long established publishing industry, including companies that have been the source of the very books Amazon supplies.

Amazon logo

In the words of Dennis Loy Johnson of Melville House, quoted in the NY Times article, “Publishers are terrified and don’t know what to do.”

Possibly the  most telling statement is attributed to Russell Grandinetti, a top executive at Amazon, who said, “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.”

The above article makes it clear how rapidly things are changing in publishing, a change reminiscent of the rapid evolution in the telecommunications industry in the 1990’s  with the explosion of Internet-based communication. It is a power shift, with author’s now having far more control of the fruits of their labor, and reaping the profits.

(Editor’s note: In another article I’ll give you my insight into the retail book industry and who is making the most profit off of the seemingly arbitrary high retail prices.