A pair of recent articles from the Bookseller’s FuturEBook blog concerning Amazon’s Encore publishing program come at it from quite different directions.

Eoin Purcell compares Amazon’s e-book selling model to Apple’s, finding that Apple is a much more traditional vendor whereas Amazon believes in changing the game little by little. Purcell mentions J.A. Konrath’s decision to publish with Encore, and notes that Amazon has ramped up from one book at launch to 27 over the course of three seasons.

To dismiss AmazonEncore, and the latest imprint AmazonCrossing which will translate foreign language titles into English and sell them on the same basis as Encore, is to underestimate the change that can be wrought to a model over time by patient and gradual action, such as that engaged in by Amazon.

But it further underestimates the huge value that Amazon has built up in customer and reader feedback. I guess that is natural enough for trade publishers who have never valued that relationship, having always gifted it to others.

Philip Jones, on the other hand, takes a closer look at J.A. Konrath’s decision to publish through Encore (which we mentioned here), and the Publishers Weekly article suggesting that it was just because his sales were declining to the point where publishers didn’t want to publish him anymore.

Jones notes that the Publishers Weekly article did mix up some of its numbers in the original article.

What SHOULD not get lost though is that the PW analysis was essentially correct—sales of Konrath’s books have been on a downwards curve for some time. With pressure on midlist authors, it is hardly surprising that traditional publishing passed on his next book, and that the author looked for the next best alternative, then tried to make a big deal out of it.

He says that this analysis will not please the crowd who believes that if you publish digital, a new audience will miraculously appear.

In the end, Jones agrees with the agents who told PW that AmazonEncore is “a new middle ground” between corporate publishing and self-publishing. But the long-term impact of this new market remains to be seen.


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