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Amazon to Publish New Line of Romances

May 09th, 2011 @ 5:14pm EDT Inc. is expanding its fast-growing publishing business with a new line of romance books, its latest quest for original content to distinguish its print and digital bookselling services.
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The imprint, Montlake Romance, will publish digital, physical and audio books and launch with an original new work, Connie Brockway's "The Other Guy's Bride," this fall.
In an interview, Jeff Belle, vice president of Amazon Publishing, said the online retailer will eventually publish books in other genres, including thrillers, mysteries and science fiction.
"Our customers are voracious readers of genre fiction, and romance is one of the biggest and fastest growing categories," said Mr. Belle.
Its moves are likely to exacerbate existing fears among some publishers that Amazon, the nation's dominant online bookseller, will use its marketing prowess to emphasize its own titles at the expense of books issued elsewhere.
"They can push their writers to the front and they have a decade of genre purchaser information," said one New York publishing executive who declined to named.
Mr. Belle said that Amazon believes that its move into publishing will benefit the entire publishing business by helping authors sell more books.
Amazon is increasingly battling traditional book businesses. The online retailer earlier this week sued the National Association of College Stores, which represents more than 3,000 college bookstores, over allegations made by the organization to the Better Business Bureau. The college stores say Amazon makes unsubstantiated claims about discounts offered on textbooks it sells. Amazon says its advertised discounts aren't misleading.
Amazon's plans for original content come as its Kindle electronic reader and store—introduced in 2007— faces fierce competition. Apple Inc.'s iPad and Barnes & Noble Inc.'s Nook e-reader have recently gained market share in devices and e-book sales.
Its publishing efforts also illustrate how the company is seeking to control some of its inventory more directly, competing with its suppliers. In recent years, for example, Amazon purchased Quidsi Inc., the parent of and, as well as shoe retailer
In 2009, Amazon launched its first imprint, AmazonEncore, with Cayla Kluver's self-published young-adult fantasy novel "Legacy." Its AmazonEncore business takes potentially hot digital titles, often self published, edits them and distributes them digitally and via print retailers. Its Kindle Direct Publishing is one of the world's largest repositories for self-published digital works.
The online retailer has also aggressively pursued exclusive content deals with publishers and authors. Arthur Klebanoff, chief executive of e-book publisher RosettaBooks LLC that has struck such deals, says Amazon provides "substantial site promotion" for the exclusive titles.
Amazon's publishing efforts could also lead to better economics for the e-commerce giant, allowing it to cut out paying third-party publishers.
Other booksellers have also entered the publishing business. Barnes & Noble, the nation's largest bookstore chain, has a long-established publishing program of its own that includes Sterling Publishing, a leader in how-to titles, and SparkNotes, a study guide series.
Ms. Brockway, a veteran romance writer, said in an interview that Amazon approached her after she announced publicly that she would be exploring self-publishing. "Amazon will do the things I'm not good at, including copy editing and marketing," she said.
Ms. Brockway's "The Other Guy's Bride," available for pre-order on, costs $9.49 for a paperback and $4.99 for the Kindle edition.
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