May 5, 2011, 5:22 PM

Isn’t Amazon romantic?

Book publishers may not be charmed, but the leading online retailer is expanding its own publishing portfolio by adding a new imprint that will publish romance novels. Montlake Romance, Amazon’s fourth publishing venture, will issue books in print, audio and e-book formats.

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Not content to sells books and produce its own electronic book reader, the Kindle, Amazon.com Inc. is moving deeper into publishing books on its own.

In its latest move, Amazon, No. 1 in the Internet Retailer Top 500 Guide, has announced a new imprint called Montlake Romance that will publish romance novels. It becomes Amazon’s fourth publishing imprint, joining AmazonEncore, AmazonCrossing and Powered by Amazon. More may be coming, says Jeff Belle, vice president of Amazon Publishing.

“We also know our customers enjoy genre fiction of all kinds, so we are busy building businesses that will focus on additional genres as well,” Belle says. Books published under the MontLake Romance banner will be issued in print and audio formats, as well as e-books for Amazon’s Kindle reader.

The first book under this imprint will be “The Other Guy’s Bride” by Connie Brockway, author of 17 previous novels, Amazon says. The book will be published in the fall.

"I am thrilled to be the launch author for Montlake Romance, bringing readers the freshest, most innovative and compelling love stories possible," Brockway says. "Montlake is giving me the opportunity to write romances that capture the imagination as well as the heart and I'm thrilled to invite readers to join me on this exhilarating journey. There are so many stories I've been dying to tell you, and people you simply have to meet."

"Connie Brockway is an award-winning and bestselling author who knows her audience as well as they know her work," says Alex Carr, editor for Amazon Publishing. "She writes her heroines as well as her heroes, and 'The Other Guy's Bride' features a cast of strong personalities that will engage new readers and please fans of Brockway's earlier novel, 'As You Desire.' Emerging from the swirling sands of early 20th century Egypt, 'The Other Guy's Bride' is full of adventure, daring escapes, and, of course, romance."

Amazon entered the book publishing business in May 2009 with AmazonEncore, which takes books self-published by authors or put out by small publishers and reintroduces them, backed by Amazon’s marketing clout. AmazonCrossing translates works from other languages and Powered by Amazon is a self-publishing service for authors. Last month Amazon sold trade paperback publishing rights to 10 books published through its Encore and Crossing imprints to traditional book publishing house Houghton Mifflin Harcourt.

Amazon has published 61 titles, the e-retailer says. Among the best sellers are "The Hangman's Daughter" by Oliver Pötzsch, which has sold more than 200,000 copies, and "A Scattered Life" by Karen McQuestion, which has sold more than 100,000 copies.

Amazon’s move into publishing illustrates how content providers lose control of their content—and of its distribution—in the digital era, says Forrester Research analyst James McQuivey. Consumers will find routes around the content providers control, as they have with music and video, he says. “Smart companies understand that rather than wait to be routed around, they have to disrupt their own industries,” McQuivey says. He points to Netflix and YouTube producing their own original content of examples of companies pursuing that strategy.

“And now it’s happening with Amazon, which has a very thriving self-publishing platform and also has become a publisher themselves of specific genres and for specific cases where they have the data to understand the purchasing patterns of a market,” he adds.

“Other publishers won’t be able to raise a fuss because they need Amazon. Plus, Amazon isn’t really going after those publishers or doing something they could do themselves—after all, they have no data about what people buy and no relationship with customers to market directly to them. So Amazon is essentially altering the traditional structure of the industry in its favor, yes, but the company is also just recognizing the shape of things to come and trying to get there before someone else does.”

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