The Washington Post

New Amazon program offers books a month before publication

(Amazon Publishing) (Amazon Publishing)

Since it began publishing its own books, Amazon has faced serious resistance from Barnes & Noble and indie bookstores that refuse to carry its titles.

Today the Seattle retailer announced an aggressive new effort to reach readers directly. (Amazon founder Jeff Bezos owns The Washington Post.)

The new Kindle First program will offer four e-books a month before their official print publication. Customers can purchase one of these Amazon-branded titles for $1.99. And Prime members can choose one of the books for free.

Amazon Publishing publicist Katie Finch said via e-mail, “Each Kindle First pick will feature an Editor’s Note sharing why it was selected, including how the book first came to the editor’s attention.”

The first books offered in the Kindle First program are:

  • “Things We Set on Fire,” a novel about a mother and her daughters, by Deborah Reed.
  • “No Place for a Dame,” a romance novel by Connie Brockway.
  • “Silent Echo,” a thriller by J.R. Rain.
  • “We Will Survive,” a collection of inspiring true-life stories by Grammy Award-winner Gloria Gaynor.

The three novelists have written bestsellers before. Rain found success as a self-published author of the “Vampire for Hire” series. Gaynor published a memoir called “I Will Survive” in 1997.

Customers will be able to purchase paper versions of these books in December for prices ranging from $8.34 to $10.95. (The undiscounted retail prices will be higher.)

In today’s announcement, Vice President of Kindle Content Russ Grandinetti said that the new Kindle First program will allow these Amazon-published books “a chance to reach a much wider audience.”

When asked whether other publishers will eventually be able to offer books through this new program, Finch said, “We’ll have to ask you to stay tuned.”

Ron Charles is the editor of The Washington Post's Book World. For a dozen years, he enjoyed teaching American literature and critical theory in the Midwest, but finally switched to journalism when he realized that if he graded one more paper, he'd go crazy.

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