Amazon has said that it is to open a European publishing wing headquartered in Luxembourg, focused on English-language titles aimed at the UK, France, Germany, Italy and Spain.
The division will be headed by Vicky Griffith, publisher of Amazon's West Coast Group, who will relocate from Seattle in the New Year and begin building a team of editors and marketers.
In a letter sent to agents by Jeff Belle, Amazon Publishing vice-president, Belle said Amazon was "determined to invent ways to help authors reach more readers", adding "As our c.e.o. 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."
Belle also announced a slight reorganisation of its US publishing business folllowing Griffith's move, with Larry Kirshbaum, publisher of the East Coast Group, expanding his brief to include Amazon's Seattle adult imprints, as well as Amazon Children's Publishing. Daphne Durham will step into the role of editor-in-chief across all four adult imprints, reporting to Kirshbaum.
Though Amazon continues to trumpet its publishing efforts, the company has struggled to establish bestsellers or acquire big name authors to add to its traditional publishing efforts. In the US a number of bookshops, including Barnes & Noble, have refused to stock Amazon-published titles because of its exclusive Kindle deals.
In his letter, Belle claims that Tim Ferriss’ The Four-Hour Chef, released last week, sold more than 60,000 copies, though with print sales about half of that it failed to top Nielsen BookScan's adult non-fiction chart for the week ending 25th November.
It is not clear if Amazon is preparing a separate letter for UK agents, or if any have been approached yet about rights deals. But the move could be as much about Amazon's desire to acquire global English-language rights and local marketing support. The Amazon-published Ferriss title is already available in the UK from Amazon.co.uk, though it currently sits in 250th on the Amazon books chart, and is not available on other retailer sites.