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Amazon Takes a Bite Out of Publishing Business

More than 122 books scheduled for release this fall
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Since hiring famed editor Larry Kirshbaum and signing a book deal with popular self-help guru Timothy Ferriss, Amazon’s publishing business has been on fire. The online retailer is set to publish 122 books this fall alone, in both e-book and print format, according to The New York Times, and recently announced an upcoming memoir from actress and director Penny Marshall—which cost the company a reported $800,000.

Amazon is also offering all of its authors—published by Amazon or not—access to
Nielsen BookScan sales data, which records how many physical books are selling in particular markets and can help little-known titles turn into big hits.

Of course, the traditional publishing industry isn’t too pleased, especially considering the fact that Amazon is “aggressively wooing some of their top authors,” according to the Times.

“Publishers are terrified and don’t know what to do,” Dennis Loy Johnson of Melville House told the Times.

“Everyone’s afraid of Amazon,” echoed agent and e-book publisher Richard Curtis. “If you’re a bookstore, Amazon has been in competition with you for some time. If you’re a publisher, one day you wake up and Amazon is competing with you too. And if you’re an agent, Amazon may be stealing your lunch because it is offering authors the opportunity to publish directly and cut you out.”

Amazon, for its part, played coy about the details of its publishing business, refusing to tell the Times how many editors it employs, or how many books it currently has under contract, but accused the old-school publishers of reveling in rumors of their imminent death.

“It’s always the end of the world,” said top Amazon exec Russell Grandinetti.