Amazon seems to be moving further into the business of becoming a publisher, not just a bookseller, as shown in this press release:
SEATTLE, May 04, 2011 (BUSINESS WIRE) --
“Amazon.com today announced the launch of Montlake Romance, the fourth and latest imprint from Amazon Publishing. Connie Brockway, two-time winner of the Romance Writers Association's "RITA Award" for best historical romance, and bestselling author of seventeen novels, including "My Dearest Enemy" and "The Bridal Season," will be the debut author of Montlake Romance. Brockway's new romance, "The Other Guy's Bride," will be published in Fall 2011 and will be available to North American readers in Kindle, print and audio formats at www.amazon.com, as well as at national and independent booksellers.”
So far, no submission guidelines have been posted, so it's not clear how they are finding work to publish. The fact that the initial author is apparently well known may suggest that they are focusing on traditionally published authors, at least to start. They are also starting with digital distribution only for the Kindle, but are considering how to get their books to readers who use other electronic devices.
This romance review blog has a few more details from aninterview with Courtney Miller, Senior Acquisitions Editor for Amazon Publishing.
Then Amazon announced their new mystery imprint, Thomas & Mercer Books. They’ve already signed some authors, including self-publishing evangelist Joe Konrath.
And even more recently, Amazon has started a general trade imprint. Barry Eisler, who made news by turning down a $400,000 traditional deal in favor of self-publishing, has signed on. He explains here. A quote: “The main thing for me is that authors have more options now than we've ever had before. Self-publishing is one of those options, and it's a great one. But as new possibilities emerge, I'll consider them, try them, and perhaps integrate them into my overall strategy. Why would anyone do anything else?”
Amazon has other imprints as well. From the website:
“Amazon Publishing's flagship imprint, AmazonEncore helps unearth exceptional books and emerging authors for more readers to enjoy, using customer feedback and sales information from Amazon's sites.”
“AmazonCrossing introduces readers to authors from around the world with translations of foreign language books, making award-winning and bestselling books accessible to many readers for the first time.”
“The first imprint from the Powered by Amazon publishing program and the brain child of bestselling author Seth Godin, The Domino Project is a series of short books that will change things for the better, designed for individuals who love new ideas and for organizations of every size.”
Again, it's not clear if/how individual authors can apply to these imprints, or if you simply have to self-publish your Kindle book and hope they find you. That seems to be the case at least for AmazonEncore. From theAmazon web site: “AmazonEncore is a new program whereby Amazon will use information such as customer reviews on Amazon.com to identify exceptional, overlooked books and authors with more potential than their sales may indicate. Amazon will then partner with the authors….”
So Amazon is providing some new opportunities, but so far they seem to favor authors who have already had at least moderate success. It will be interesting to see how traditional publishers adapt to this new challenge to their territory.