Wednesday, October 30, 2013

Amazon Publishing: whether and whither

The recent changes in Amazon's publishing arm have held some enlightening lessons regarding the way different types of books are sold.

While Amazon is backing away from big-name general interest titles, the company's stock is up and it's going to keep publishing genre fiction. (And which part of that statement is emphasized really depends on where you get your publishing industry commentary.)

The lesson seems to be that would-be mainstream bestsellers really do need a presence in physical bookstores to generate enough buzz, but that genre fiction lends itself to marketing targeted at niche audiences.

It makes sense. As someone involved in spec fic, I've heard a number of longtime fans and convention-goers say that the sci-fi/fantasy community is tight-knit and that there is a lot of crossover between consumers and creators. I don't know whether the links are as strong in other genres, but given the existence of conventions such as Bouchercon and Malice Domestic (for crime and mystery) and organizations like the very active Romance Writers of America, I can only assume that these principles hold true.

In any case, it will be interesting to see if the genre imprints at Amazon Publishing are able to survive in these niches and how (or whether) they can achieve a truce with traditional booksellers. 

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