Amazon is stepping up its efforts in its publishing department, bringing on the editor and agent Laurence Kirshbaum and signing cultish self-help guru (among younger men, anyway) Tim Ferriss. As Ferriss noted in The New York Times, Amazon has “a one-to-one relationship with every one of their customers.” And for that reason, the rest of the literary world has not reacted favorably to these two new developments.
Traditional publishers, already experiencing fragile times, are nerved up about Amazon’s clout and its potential to take over a large share of book distribution. Independent booksellers, meanwhile, have long felt squeezed by Amazon, and some have declared they won’t carry Ferriss’ forthcoming, Amazon-published book.
It’s a sticky situation. Even with the occasional bright spot on the indie bookstore front these days, refusing to sell Ferriss’ book will only hurt small booksellers. And for publishers, they increasingly have to deal with Amazon as both a customer (since, presumably, the online behemoth carries their titles) and a competitor.