June 4, 2012, 4:25 PM

Amazon moves further into book publishing with an acquisition

The e-retailer buys the rights to over 3,000 titles from Avalon Books.

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Having disrupted the book publishing industry with its aggressive promotion of the Kindle e-book reader, Amazon.com Inc. is increasingly nudging publishers out of the book-production process by becoming a publisher in its own right. The leading web retailer took another step in that direction today by acquiring more than 3,000 backlist titles from Avalon Books.

The titles are primarily in the categories of romance, mystery and Westerns, Amazon says. The company did not say how much it was paying for the rights to publish these titles.

“Avalon has a long tradition in publishing wonderful stories that affirm a positive way of life,” says Philip Patrick, director of business Development, rights and licensing at Amazon, No. 1 in the Internet Retailer Top 500 Guide. “We are thrilled to have these talented writers join our publishing program. None of these titles have been digitized yet and we know Kindle customers will delight in this great new offering.”

“I’ve been running Avalon Books—which was founded by my father—since 1995, and it is time for me to explore the next chapter of my life,” says Ellen Bouregy Mickelsen, publisher of Avalon Books. “I chose Amazon Publishing because they care deeply about the writers, readers, and categories that have long mattered to our family business and they are uniquely positioned to assure that our titles make the leap forward into the digital future. I am pleased they have asked me to assist during a period of transition to provide continuity and support for our authors.”

Mickelsen will stay on for several months to help authors make the transition to Amazon and to help Amazon acquire digital rights to certain older titles that Avalon does not own. Amazon says it will continue to keep the Avalon books in print even as it also offers them as e-books.

The Avalon titles will become part of what Amazon calls the West Coast arm of its Amazon Publishing unit. Amazon Publishing’s West Coast Group includes imprints AmazonEncore, AmazonCrossing, Montlake Romance, Thomas & Mercer, and 47North. Amazon Publishing’s East Coast Group publishes adult trade, children's and young adult titles.

Amazon last month acquired the rights to publish classic James Bond spy novels in both print and digital form. In December, the e-retailer acquired more than 450 titles from the book imprint Marshall Cavendish Children’s Books.

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