Vertical Integration in Publishing – Pushing Both Ways

Two major announcements this week indicated vertical integration pushes in publishing.

Amazon has much more seriously gone into the publishing business and launched its fourth imprint, Montlake Romance. From Jeff Belle: “Romance is one of our biggest and fastest growing categories, particularly among Kindle customers, so we can’t wait to make The Other Guy’s Bride and other compelling titles available to romance fans around the world. We also know our customers enjoy genre fiction of all kinds, so we are busy building publishing businesses that will focus on additional genres as well.”

Meanwhile three leading trade publishers – Simon & Schuster, Penguin Group USA and Hachette Book Group – have formed a joint venture to sell books, Bookish.com. As detailed by the New York Times, “There’s a frustration with book consumers that there’s no one-stop shopping when it comes to information about books and authors,” said Carolyn Reidy, the president and chief executive of Simon & Schuster. “We need to try to recreate the discovery of new books that currently happens in the physical environment, but which we don’t believe is currently happening online.”

The question is, who is better positioned to win in the other’s space? Are publishers better booksellers or are booksellers better publishers? Who comes in with a better strategic position?

One way to look at this is, which way is the talent going? Clearly I’m biased, but looking at movement on the street talent is flowing out of traditional publishers and towards new ventures and retailers. Just one example of talent headed out. Another.

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