Amazon Friending Rivals?
Of the many companies that have reinvented themselves in the violent upheavals of 21st century publishing, Ingram Content Group (as it is now called) stands out as one of the most resourceful. It has transformed itself from what Publishers Weekly described as “the book industry’s quintessential middleman” to what former CEO Skip Prichard called a “centerspoke of an industry in transition.” At its core is the mission of “helping content reach its destination,” as Prichard put it, and to enable publishers do that efficiently whether the product is tangible or digital.
It’s likely that Amazon admires Ingram for the same reasons, for it has just announced that it has engaged Ingram to distribute the e-books produced by its recently created publishing company. Those e-books will still of course continue to be sold on Kindle, but they will also be available throughout Ingram’s vast network of retailers, many of which are competitive with Amazon.
Laura Hazard Owen, reporting the story exclusively on PaidContent, writes that “The deal, with Ingram’s digital distribution arm CoreSource, will make the ebooks available to Amazon competitors like Barnes & Noble, Apple and Kobo — though, of course, those competitors aren’t compelled to stock Amazon titles.
“The idea of Apple selling Amazon’s ebooks,” adds Owen, “is particularly interesting, given the Department of Justice’s lawsuit against Apple and book publishers for allegedly colluding to set ebook prices.”
The Ingram coup is a feather in the cap of Laurence Kirshbaum, who heads the East Coast operation of Amazon’s publishing operations. Amazon’s insistence on exclusivity has not only alienated competitors but worried authors seeking the broadest marketplace for their work. The alliance with Ingram suggests a shift in policy and offers the intriguing hope that Amazon Publishing will extend its good will to printed books and hold out the olive branch out to bookstores