Instead of dealing with publishers to get digital copies of books distributed through the Kindle, Amazon is now looking to connect with the authors directly.
It sounds like a win-win situation. The author would likely be able to get more money by cutting out the middle man, and Amazon would be able to offer the books for less, meaning customers would be more likely to buy.
Amazon will act as the publisher for 122 books this fall season. This means the retailer will not only distribute the book, but it has to distribute royalties and perform marketing, and secure contract deals with the authors.
That's significantly different than just acting as a book store. For example, self-help author Tim Ferriss and legendary actress Penny Marshall have both signed book deals with Amazon, not one of the big New York City publishing houses.
This doesn't mean the books will be available exclusively on the Kindle. Amazon will surely try to get as much money as possible out of these book deals, which could mean running them in print form as well.
It's a rought time to be a traditional publisher right now, as the Amazon factor is posing a threat to the industry which has remained largely stale practically for the entire last century.
The New York Times quoted agent Richard Curtis as saying of the new trend, "Everyone’s afraid of Amazon. 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."
It's good for Amazon, and it seems like this trend is pretty favorable for consumers too. But when it's at the expense of traditional publishing companies, it'll be interesting to see what happens.