retail news in context, analysis with attitude

Crain’s New York Business takes note of how Amazon.com yet again seems to be challenging the boundaries of its business model: “In its most aggressive move yet into territory traditionally occupied by the major New York houses, the Seattle-based e-retailer took part last week in a heated auction for four books by self-published bestselling novelist Amanda Hocking. Executives at several houses said they knew of no other instance in which the company had competed with major publishers for a high profile commercial author.”

According to the story, “Amazon has done deals directly with authors and agents in the past, but usually for backlist titles or specialty projects. It has used those exclusive offerings to distinguish its Kindle e-bookstore in an increasingly competitive digital market.” And Crain’s suggests that “Amazon would have seen Ms. Hocking as a natural fit because of her roots in the e-publishing world, where she has sold more than a million copies of her nine titles in the category of young adult paranormal romance.”

The story says that Amazon partnered in the bid with Houghton Mifflin Harcourt, which would have handled the print editions.
KC's View:
This particular story does not have a happy ending: Crain’s reports that “St. Martin's Press ended up winning the auction, paying $2 million for the series of four novels, but Amazon actually made the highest offer of the six bidders, according to insiders. Its failure to acquire the titles demonstrates some of the difficulties the company may have if it continues to pursue potential blockbusters as part of a strategy to maintain its Kindle store's dominance.”

But it underlines the fact that Amazon, a company that has forged anything but a traditional route to e-dominance, plans to continue challenging any limitations that might hem it in.

Good lesson for every retailer.