A Major New Fantasy Market Opens

Amazon just announced the launch of another publishing imprint, 47 North.  This new imprint focuses on speculative fiction genres, namely science-fiction, fantasy, and horror.

See the link below for commentary from both The Passive Voice blog and author Michael Stackpole.

Link to article on The Passive Voice.

As for me, I find it interesting that the kings of digital self-publishing distribution, Amazon, have now become actual publishers and are releasing both new and backlisted novels.

What does this mean for digital self-publishing pursuits?

As with any publisher, I suspect they’ll solicit deals with those indie/traditional published writers who are making a splash in the market with consistently high sales.

I’m not sure if 47 North will be open to direct query or agent contact.  That remains to be seen.

This announcement, while intriguing, doesn’t change my publishing plans at this moment.

What do you think about this new development?  Does it change anything for your writing/publishing plans?



9 responses to “A Major New Fantasy Market Opens

  • Stephen A. Watkins

    It’s interesting. Doesn’t change my plans either. But Amazon is clearly gunning for the existing publishers: they see an opportunity to capture value by vertically integrating. This definitely complicates the relationships between traditional publishers and one of their biggest retailers.

    • Stephen A. Watkins

      I’ll also point out that I find Passive Guy’s analysis a little… I don’t know… naive. If “Bezos wakes up one day and decides to become a Dark Lord”? He already is, more-or-less… it’s just question of whose Dark Lord he is. And Amazon already does the supplier-squeezing that Wal-Mart does. It’s part of their success. They just haven’t done it to authors… yet. And Stackpole thinks it’s okay that they probably won’t do it “for at least 3 years”. Because 3 years is enough, in the world of books and writing, to establish yourself and your career?

      And they think that if Amazon turns on authors after achieving monopoly-status, everyone will turn somewhere else? Where? If Amazon has a monopoly, by definition there is nowhere else to turn. At that point you’re pretty much locked-in.

      I hope they’re right, and Amazon remains generally non-malevolent with respect to authors. As long as Amazon doesn’t actually have a monopoly I think they’ll be fine. A bit of healthy competition will likely do wonders to keep them honest. But I’m not interested in waiting for those particular chickens to come home to roost.

      Really… the main questions I have for the new imprint, frankly, concern (a) prestige and (b) print distribution. How long before publishing with 47 North carries the same cachet as publishing with Tor or HarperCollins, or so on? Will I be able to find a “47 North” book on the shelves of Barnes & Noble or an indie bookstore?

      I can only speculate as to the answer of the first… but it would be random speculation. The second I make an educated guess at: the answer will be “no”.

      • Mark J. Taylor

        I’m not sure how many readers shop for fiction based on publisher or imprint. Most readers want a good story. I shop by author and title, personally, never publisher.

        I think only authors may worry about the prestige factor of publishing imprints.

      • Stephen A. Watkins

        As a writer, the prestige does matter to me. I know I view the different imprints differently. I shop based on author and genre – but I also have a different impression on the quality of author that different imprints produce. Something being published by Tor, for instance, tells me something about the author, if I’ve never read anything else by that author, versus something published by Harper Collins or Ballantine, etc. I’ve found that Imprints tend to develop a certain character or flavor to the types of work they publish – and that can be a big factor in trying out new authors: as in “I like so-and-so and they are published by such-and-such publisher. So I might like somebody-else who’s also published by such-and-such.”

    • Mark J. Taylor

      Doesn’t change my plans either, but I’m glad to see an imprint for spec fiction writers, if nothing else.

  • Mark J. Taylor

    I’ll have to say you are likely more discerning than most when it comes to shopping for fiction. How has that affected your online shopping for print books? Are the imprints as easily identifiable with a thumbnail and online listing compared to looking at and holding a hardback book in a bookstore?

    • Stephen A. Watkins

      Imprints are typically indicated in an Amazon listing, under “product details”. For instance, Sanderson’s “The Way of Kings” lists the publisher as “Tor Fantasy”. Tor being, of course, an imprint of Tom Doherty Associates. Rothfuss’s “Name of the Wind” indicates “DAW”. Lev Grossman’s “The Magicians” lists “Viking”, which is an imprint of Penguin. And so on… so it’s not hard to figure out who publishes what.

      • Mark J. Taylor

        I’ve never clicked the product details link when book shopping. I’m not sure how many typical readers do that when they can see the cover image, reader sample pages and reviews.

        This effectively hides the publisher from initial view/browsing and now a reader must click a link/scroll down and specifically look for publisher. With paper books, the publisher logo/name is on the spine and it is much more obvious at a glance, especially the way books are often shelved spine out.

        This just reinforces my sense that most readers don’t care about publisher name/imprint, only the author/title and if it was either recommended to them or if they liked the sample chapters and/or reviews.

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