Summary:

Amazon will begin publishing original books in Europe, the company announced in a letter to literary agents Wednesday. Victoria Griffith, Amazon’s head of West Coast publishing, will move to Luxembourg, while Larry Kirshbaum will assume leadership of both the Seattle and New York imprints.

Larry Kirshbaum

Amazon is expanding its original publishing efforts to Europe and is also shaking up its publishing division’s structure, Publishing VP Jeff Belle announced in a letter to literary agents Wednesday (the full letter is below).

Belle writes that “early next year, we will launch Amazon Publishing in Europe from our EU headquarters in Luxembourg.” Victoria Griffith, who headed Amazon Publishing in Seattle, will move to Luxembourg in early 2013 to run the operations. In her place, Larry Kirshbaum, publisher of Amazon Publishing New York, “will now assume editorial leadership for our Seattle and New York adult imprints, as well as Amazon Children’s Publishing.” Daphne Durham, who was editorial director, is promoted to editor-in-chief across Amazon’s adult imprints, reporting to Kirshbaum. Other staff changes:

Amazon veteran Amy Bates will oversee Operations across our entire publishing business.  West Coast Marketing chief Mikyla Bruder will oversee our global marketing efforts across all imprints.  Philip Patrick, who has been leading our rights and licensing team, will now lead our larger business development, rights and sales teams across all imprints.  And another long-time Amazon veteran, Brooke Gilbert, will continue to lead our dedicated Author Services team.

Belle also touted some sales numbers. Tim Ferriss’s The Four-Hour Chef, released November 20, “has already sold over 60,000 copies (print + Kindle),” he said. With Publishers Lunch reporting today that Four-Hour Chef sold 29,000 print copies in its first week (according to Nielsen BookScan, which tracks print sales, including those through Amazon’s website), that suggests about half Four-Hour Chef‘s sales were digital.

Amazon Publishing now has five active Seattle-based imprints, mostly focused on genres like romance and thrillers, along with the general trade and children’s divisions in New York. Publishing industry veteran Kirshbaum was hired to launch the New York division in May 2011, and it published its first books this fall — including Ferriss’s Four-Hour Chef and former Laverne & Shirley star Penny Marshall’s memoir My Mother Was Nuts. Barnes & Noble and many independent bookstores refuses to carry Amazon print titles in their stores, which limits the distribution of Amazon Publishing titles and could affect the company’s ability to sign bestselling authors in future. But, as Belle notes in his letter, the company will now attempt to bring more English-language authors to a European audience.

Here is Belle’s full letter:

Dear Friends:

As we head into the holiday season, we have much to be thankful for at Amazon Publishing. We are especially thankful for our authors, who continue to keep us energized, and readers, who help get these books on Amazon bestseller lists. I am happy to report that thirteen of the Top 100 Kindle bestsellers for the month of October were by Amazon Publishing authors. In the past few months, we’ve welcomed several new authors into the 100,000-copies club: John Rector (ALREADY GONE), Sean Chercover (THE TRINITY GAME), Blake Crouch (PINES), Kendra Elliott (HIDDEN), Laurie Fabiano (ELIZABETH STREET), GM Ford (THICKER THAN WATER), Melinda Leigh (SHE CAN RUN), Alexis Harrington (HOME BY MORNING), Karin Slaughter (THORN IN MY SIDE), Michael Wallace (THE RIGHTEOUS) and Nelson DeMille (THE BOOK CASE).

We continue to be energized by readers’ reception for our authors and their books — so much so that we have some exciting news to share. Early next year, we will launch Amazon Publishing in Europe from our EU headquarters in Luxembourg. Vicky Griffith, who as Publisher of our West Coast Group, has been instrumental in launching our US business, will be relocating from Seattle after the New Year to help support this effort. We will begin staffing a team of editors and marketers, and ensure we are expanding the English language audience for our authors, with a focus on our English language bookstores on amazon.co.uk, amazon.de, amazon.fr,amazon.it and amazon.es.

As Vicky hops the pond, we will make a few organizational changes in the US, centralizing key functions and positioning us for continued growth.  Larry Kirshbaum, Publisher of our East Coast Group, will now assume editorial leadership for our Seattle and New York adult imprints, as well as Amazon Children’s Publishing. Daphne Durham will step into the role of Editor-in-Chief across all of our adult imprints, reporting to Larry. Amazon veteran Amy Bates will oversee Operations across our entire publishing business. West Coast Marketing chief Mikyla Bruder will oversee our global marketing efforts across all imprints. Philip Patrick, who has been leading our rights and licensing team, will now lead our larger business development, rights and sales teams across all imprints. And another long-time Amazon veteran, Brooke Gilbert, will continue to lead our dedicated Author Services team.

We remain determined to invent ways to help authors reach more readers. In July, for example, AmazonCrossing began translating  the first of our English language books into German. Already, twelve of these titles have appeared on the Kindle Top 100 list in Germany. At the same time, our Kindle Serials format has outperformed our expectations in the short time since our September launch — and we are thrilled to be publishing Kurt Vonnegut’s SUCKER’S PORTFOLIO, featuring seven never-before-published stories releasing in serialized form, over the next seven weeks. In September, based on overwhelming customer feedback, Amazon Studios optioned the film rights to Ania Ahlborn’s SEED, published in July by 47North. Short-form content has a home with Amazon Publishing as well: Thomas & Mercer published THE BOOK CASE by Nelson Demille as a Kindle Single in May (over 200,000 copies sold) and THORN IN MY SIDE by Karin Slaughter (over 100,000 copies sold).

We’re also very excited about some highly-anticipated new releases.  Tim Ferriss’ THE 4-HOUR CHEF released last week, and has already sold over 60,000 copies (print + Kindle) — more than any other non-fiction title on Amazon for the week, which included Black Friday. BONE RIVER by Megan Chance, which has been called “heartbreaking…complex and intriguing” by PW and “quietly powerful” by Booklist comes out December 4. THE BEGGAR KING, the “brilliant” third book in the highly-acclaimed Hangman’s Daughter series (over 500,000 copies sold) releases January 6. And THE RUSSIAN DONATION, winner of Germany’s Friedrich Glauser Prize, is being translated into English by Gerald Chapple and will be published by AmazonCrossing on January 22.

As our CEO likes to say, “It’s still day one.” That is especially true of Amazon Publishing. We have much work to do, and many challenges ahead of us, and we remain relentlessly focused on providing the best possible publishing experience for your authors.

Thank you again for your support.  If you have any questions about Amazon Publishing, as always, please feel free to reach out to me directly.

Jeff

P.S. If you’ve started your holiday shopping, check out HARRY POTTER PAGE TO SCREEN, THE COMPLETE FILMMAKING JOURNEY (COLLECTOR’S EDITION).  It’s available December 4.

Jeff Belle
Vice President
Amazon Publishing

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