retail news in context, analysis with attitude

by Kevin Coupe

It is a mark of Amazon’s growing ambitions that the e-tailing pioneer just has taken on a new role - that of James Bond’s US publisher.

That’s right. Yesterday, Amazon.com announced that it has acquired the North American print and digital rights to publish all of Ian Fleming’s 14 original James Bond novels. The 10-year deal will permit Amazon’s Thomas & Mercer publishing imprint to create a new series of covers for the print editions, which also will be available in competing bricks-and-mortar bookstores. (Though it will be interesting to see if any of them decide not to carry the backlist novels because they are being published by the entity that seems foresworn to put them out of business. Would M and Blofeld go into business together? I think not...)

In the beginning, Amazon says, it plans to make digital editions of the novels available only for its Kindle devices and not for competitive e-book readers.

Amazon supporters will say that the company is only trying to assure a steady flow of content for its Kindles, and that by becoming a publisher, it is helping to make more books available to the reading public. But opponents will suggest that its moves are akin to creating a kind of monopoly by controlling all aspects of the publishing process - the literary version of building a lair into a volcano and planning to take over the world.

Whatever. Amazon’s timing is good, with James Bond’s legacy likely to get a shot in the arm this November with the release of Skyfall, the latest movie about the superspy to star Daniel Craig.
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