Here’s a great New York Times story on how Amazon is disrupting traditional publishing by signing authors to their own imprints. From the article:
Amazon executives, interviewed at the company’s headquarters here, declined to say how many editors the company employed, or how many books it had under contract. But they played down Amazon’s power and said publishers were in love with their own demise.
“It’s always the end of the world,” said Russell Grandinetti, one of Amazon’s top executives. “You could set your watch on it arriving.”
He pointed out, though, that the landscape was in some ways changing for the first time since Gutenberg invented the modern book nearly 600 years ago. “The only really necessary people in the publishing process now are the writer and reader,” he said.
Author Michael Stackpole has more: Is Amazon the Sauron of Publishing?
Publishers really can’t ignore that this is a shot across their bows—though I imagine they will. Just the fact that Amazon pays on a monthly basis makes authors look on them favorably. Their willingness to promote is another plus. The fact that they’re willing to let authors publish what they want when they want, regardless of whether or not a committee thinks it will be a blockbuster, is a third factor in their favor.
Plus this perspective on fears of Amazon becoming a monopoly:
For authors, Amazon (and electronic publishing), looks very good. We earn 70% of a retail price we set, and we get the money in sixty days. Amazon spends a lot of money convincing people to buy empty boxes and allows me to supply the stuff they’ll put in those boxes. While some might fear that Amazon—once it establishes its monopoly—will cut the pay rate or otherwise upset the apple-cart, I believe that worry is premature. Amazon’s plan for complete vertical integration requires the compliance of authors. They need what we supply.
Emphasis mine. Not much more to say here, the links are worth reading in full.