November 18, 2014
Novelist Ed Park, a senior editor at Amazon’s publishing office, has decided to leave the company and move to Penguin Press as an executive editor. The shift highlights Amazon’s battle with its image as competition grows within the publishing ecosystem. Amazon faces obstacles as bookstores refuse to carry books published by Amazon, and authors and agents are therefore disinclined to join. However, Park explained that such conflict was not the main reason for his departure.
Amazon gave Park his own imprint, Little A, proving that it was willing to take risks that were not entirely focused on commercial value. Since 2011, Park has published about 20 books. He also won a major literary prize for the company.
“And his defection comes as Amazon is struggling to maintain its standing with writers and agents as hostile pricing negotiations drag on with the publisher Hachette, and a growing group of prominent authors are lobbying the Justice Department to investigate Amazon for antitrust violations,” reports The New York Times (Amazon and Hachette recently reached an agreement).
Park faced troubles in convincing authors and agents to join Amazon simply due to their suspicions. While Park listed these obstacles as one of the reasons for his departure, it was not the ultimate factor.
“There were times when I felt like what I was doing was a bit of an outlier,” Park said. “To Amazon Publishing’s credit, any book I felt strongly about, they let me pursue, and that kind of autonomy was rare in that climate.”