Irishman leads the way in Amazon's new publishing arm
An Irishman has landed what could eventually be one of the biggest jobs in publishing.
Eoin Purcell, currently editorial director at New Island Books in Dublin, is to lead a team being set up to make Amazon a major publisher in its own right in Britain.
This marks a significant move by the internet giant away from just selling books produced by established publishers or self-published books as its publishing department grows since it was established in November of last year.
Amazon.co.uk is run separately from Amazon.com in the US, where a similar editorial team is being set up to start publishing.
The company already tried this a few years ago in the US with limited success. It paid big advances to some big-name authors but the book sales were disappointing.
The new initiative is aimed at putting stronger editorial teams in place to make better choices.
Mr Purcell's title in the London Amazon office will be editorial leader.
He is well-known as a publisher at New Island and Mercier and also for his Irish Publishing News website. He will start his new job next month.
The appointment will be of special interest to Irish authors as Mr Purcell will already be familiar with their work which may give them an advantage.
Initially it seems likely that Amazon will help self-published authors now only available as e-books or print-to-order books to get into the mainstream.
However, it is unclear so far whether books published by Amazon in the UK will be stocked in bookshops.
Given the fact that Amazon is taking so much trade away from traditional stores it is possible that bookshops will refuse to stock Amazon titles. Some bookshops in the US have taken a similar stance.
Amazon is already locked in a book pricing battle with Hachette, one of the five big publishing groups in the world. The row has not affected books bought through Amazon in the UK but it has turned more bitter in the US with publishers and authors accusing Amazon of undermining book publishing.
Tomorrow the 'New York Times' will be running a letter of protest from 900 authors about Amazon's tactics which will appear as a full page ad in that paper.
Mr Purcell last night declined to comment on his new job apart from saying that he was looking forward to it.