Amazon’s Publishing Plans Cause Rivals Some Unease

Traditional publishers wary of big hire

Earlier in the week, Amazon announced that it was hiring Laurence Kirshbaum, the former CEO of Time Warner Book Group, to head a new publishing imprint. This seems like an odd time for Amazon to be making its mark on the publishing industry. Book sales are down, major book chains like Borders are shutting their doors, and e-books are outselling print books on Amazon.

Now many rival publishers are confused and nervous about Amazon’s new direction, especially considering how tight-lipped the company has been about its plans for Kirshbaum, says the New York Post.

One publishing executive who was at the annual book trade fair, BookExpo America, told the Post, “The hiring of Larry says two things: One, he was getting tired of being an agent, and two, Amazon realizes that if they are going to be in the game, they had to get someone who knows how to publish a book, from relationships with authors and agents to editing and marketing. . . . It's a lot more complicated than sticking a book in a box and sending it to consumers.”

Meanwhile, Amazon is trying to retain its dominance on the digital side as well. Just hours after Barnes & Noble announced its new Nook Touch, Amazon unveiled plans for an $164 ad-supported Kindle 3G. Amazon’s price-reduced, ad-supported Wi-Fi Kindle, released last month, is currently its best-selling model.

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