Amazon Gets All Publish-y and Stuff

In its continual attempts to become the Wal-Mart of the literary world (there’s an oxymoron if I ever heard one), Amazon, the strapping, young Fabio, has gone on a Quest for Fair Maidens: the trembling, nubile, romance writer.

This week, Amazon announced that it will be launching its own line of romance novels, called “Montlake Publishing.” Sounds vaguely knight-y and seductive, no?  The books will be available in all forms of media: on Amazon’s Kindle, traditional print, and audio. The line is scheduled to debut in the Fall.

Why would Amazon want to bother with getting into the direct publishing end of the business? Well, for several reasons. First, they are in a great position to sell to their customers. They can advertise on the site, of course, but they also have access to their customers’ buying habits and can recommend selections to them.

Why a romance line? That was probably a no-brainer. Romance novels are voraciously consumed by readers. Romance Writers of America reports that sales for 2009 topped 1.37 billion dollars.

In addition to romance novels, Montlake will also eventually offer science fiction, thrillers,  and mysteries. While the initial titles will likely be from relatively unknown authors, it seems plausible that bigger names will want to get in on Amazon’s mass audience.