WHSmith is stocking paperback books published by Thomas & Mercer, a crime fiction imprint of Amazon Publishing.
Books by Thomas & Mercer authors Mel Sherratt, Mark Edwards and Helen Smith have been on display in WHSmith Travel shops in Manchester Piccadilly, London Victoria and London Paddington stations this week.
The books have been on promotional tables and shelves as part of a "buy one get one half price" offer.
It is thought to be the first time that a bricks and mortar retailer in the UK has stocked physical books from Amazon, although a spokesperson for the publisher said “many physical bookstores” in the UK and US carry Amazon Publishing titles. The spokesperson has yet to confirm other named retailers in the UK. WHSmith has yet to comment on the stocking decision.
Literary agent Madeleine Milburn, who represents Sherratt, said: “I knew it was only time before an author with Amazon did so well that there was traditional retail demand – I had a feeling that Mel would lead the way as one of these authors as she’s enormously popular in e-format.” Milburn has just negotiated a new two-book deal for Sherratt with Emilie Marneur, senior acquisitions editor at Thomas & Mercer. The books are a continuation of Sherratt’s DS Allie Shenton series.
Sam Copeland of Rogers, Coleridge and White, who represents Edwards, said WHSmith’s stocking of the titles was “an interesting turn of events”.
The Amazon Publishing spokesperson said: “Our books are available to bookstores to carry in the UK and EU through Gardners, in the US through Brilliance Publishing and in Canada through Monarch Books. While we don't have a full list to share because it can vary book-by-book, many physical bookstores carry Amazon Publishing titles.”
Amazon Publishing UK, which recently appointed Eoin Purcell to lead the London-based group, plans to publish 500 titles this year.
Earlier this year a number of retailers told The Bookseller that they would not stock titles from Amazon Publishing.
David Prescott, c.e.o. of Blackwell’s bookshops, said: “It would seem an unusual decision for us to stock Amazon Publishing’s titles because they are a direct competitor to us.
“If it became a significant player in academic publishing we might have to review that.”
Ron Johns, who owns independents including The Falmouth Bookseller, said: “There isn’t a hope in hell I would stock Amazon Publishing titles if I could help it, and I’d be surprised if you could find an independent bookseller who would say they will. We absolutely hate Amazon and what it has done to the high street and the book trade.”