Amazon Is Scaling Back Its Book Publishing

A blog about business and economics.
Oct. 25 2013 12:32 PM

Amazon Is Scaling Back Its Book Publishing

141370913
Even if Amazon's book sales fall, the company can probably stand to take the beating.

Photo by Robert Michael/AFP/Getty Images

Matthew Yglesias is on vacation.

Larry Kirshbaum, head of Amazon’s New York and Seattle adult and children's publishing imprints, is leaving the company—and with his departure, Amazon publishing operations will be scaled back, according to Shelf Awareness.

Advertisement

The news comes after years of other editorial departures and layoffs and amid Amazon’s recent absence from major book biddings. Shelf Awareness is reporting, however, that Amazon will continue with its more specialized publishing imprints, including mysteries and science fiction.

There’s a lot of fallout to parse here, but it’s worth noting the beating that even a company like Amazon can suffer when engaging in disruptive entrepreneurship. In 2012, Barnes & Noble announced it wouldn’t sell books published by Amazon. After that announcement, indie booksellers followed suit. (It surely didn’t help matters that Kirshbaum was accused of sexual assault in August.)

No matter what, Amazon’s role in changing the publishing industry has been critical. Any withdrawal it makes from the industry now will be just as important as its entrance was—although other publishers will be much happier to see its operations contract. Brad Stone, author of the new book The Everything Store: Jeff Bezos and the Age of Amazon, compared Amazon’s pursuit of contracts to a cheetah pursuing a sickly gazelle. That sounds about right.

Sean Vitka holds a J.D. from Boston College Law School. He was a legal fellow at the Open Technology Institute and a Google Policy Fellow at Georgetown Law.

TODAY IN SLATE

Politics

The Democrats’ War at Home

How can the president’s party defend itself from the president’s foreign policy blunders?

Congress’ Public Shaming of the Secret Service Was Political Grandstanding at Its Best

Michigan’s Tradition of Football “Toughness” Needs to Go—Starting With Coach Hoke

A Plentiful, Renewable Resource That America Keeps Overlooking

Animal manure.

Windows 8 Was So Bad That Microsoft Will Skip Straight to Windows 10

Politics

Cringing. Ducking. Mumbling.

How GOP candidates react whenever someone brings up reproductive rights or gay marriage.

Building a Better Workplace

You Deserve a Pre-cation

The smartest job perk you’ve never heard of.

The Ludicrous Claims Women Are Pitched at “Egg Freezing Parties”

Piper Kerman on Why She Dressed Like a Hitchcock Heroine for Her Prison Sentencing

  News & Politics
The World
Oct. 1 2014 11:48 AM Syria’s “Moderate” Rebels Are Realizing That U.S. Airstrikes Help Bashar al-Assad, Not Them
  Business
Buy a Small Business
Oct. 1 2014 11:43 AM “I Didn’t Want to Build the Next Twitter for Cats” Search funds are the quiet, dependable, risk-averse sibling to the startup. 
  Life
The Vault
Oct. 1 2014 10:49 AM James Meredith, Determined to Enroll at Ole Miss, Declares His Purpose in a 1961 Letter
  Double X
The XX Factor
Sept. 30 2014 12:34 PM Parents, Get Your Teenage Daughters the IUD
  Slate Plus
Behind the Scenes
Oct. 1 2014 10:54 AM “I Need a Pair of Pants That Won’t Bore Me to Death” Troy Patterson talks about looking sharp, flat-top fades, and being Slate’s Gentleman Scholar.
  Arts
Brow Beat
Oct. 1 2014 10:44 AM Everyone’s Favorite Bob’s Burgers Character Gets a Remix You Can Dance to
  Technology
Future Tense
Oct. 1 2014 11:48 AM Watch a Crowd Go Wild When Steve Jobs Moves a Laptop in This 1999 Demonstration of WiFi
  Health & Science
Bad Astronomy
Oct. 1 2014 7:30 AM Say Hello to Our Quasi-Moon, 2014 OL339
  Sports
Sports Nut
Sept. 30 2014 5:54 PM Goodbye, Tough Guy It’s time for Michigan to fire its toughness-obsessed coach, Brady Hoke.