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Amazon News: Kindle First and Kirshbaum Out
Since it began publishing its own books, Amazon has faced serious resistance from Barnes & Noble and indie bookstores that refuse to carry its titles, says an article in The Washington Post. (Amazon founder Jeff Bezos now owns The Washington Post.)
On November 1st, the Seattle retailer announced an aggressive new effort to reach readers directly.
The new "Kindle First" program will offer four e-books a month before their official print publication. Customers can purchase one of these Amazon-branded titles for $1.99. And Prime members can choose one of the books for free.
Amazon Publishing publicist Katie Finch said via e-mail, “Each Kindle First pick will feature an Editor’s Note sharing why it was selected, including how the book first came to the editor’s attention.”
The first books offered in the Kindle First program are:
Things We Set on Fire, a novel about a mother and her daughters, by Deborah Reed.
No Place for a Dame, a romance novel by Connie Brockway.
Silent Echo, a thriller by J.R. Rain.
We Will Survive, a collection of inspiring true-life stories by Grammy Award-winner Gloria Gaynor.
The three novelists have written bestsellers before. Rain found success as a self-published author of the Vampire for Hire series. Gaynor published a memoir called I Will Survive in 1997.
Customers will be able to purchase paper versions of these books in December for prices ranging from $8.34 to $10.95. (The undiscounted retail prices will be higher.)
In the announcement, Vice President of Kindle Content Russ Grandinetti said that the new Kindle First program will allow these Amazon-published books “a chance to reach a much wider audience.”
When asked whether other publishers will eventually be able to offer books through this new program, Finch said, “We’ll have to ask you to stay tuned.”
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All this against the backdrop of the Larry Kirshbaum resignation and boycotts of Amazon-published book by brick and mortar bookstores. Here's how NPR summarized the situation on October 30th:
"A lot of booksellers said enough is enough: Not only is Amazon trying to take over the retail side of the book business, it's also going to take over publishing? Some independent bookstores decided they wouldn't carry Amazon Publishing's books and, even more importantly, Barnes & Noble — the country's biggest bookstore chain — and some big-box stores followed suit. Neither Amazon nor its authors expected that kind of backlash, and a couple of pretty big Amazon releases never really took off.
"That's where things stood last week when the news broke that Kirshbaum was leaving Amazon to become a literary agent again. His departure was widely viewed as a sign that Amazon Publishing could be in trouble, done in by the likes of Barnes & Noble. Amazon quickly stepped in to say that reports of the demise — or near demise — of its publishing business were greatly exaggerated. In fact, Amazon says it plans to expand its New York business."