Sarah Weiman just posted an article over on Daily Finance, in which she argues that Amazon could be a game changer in publishing. Here's the important part:
With only 3% of the American book market devoted to translated fiction, that gambit seems likely to succeed, considering the international edition of the Kindle is now available in over 100 countries. Unlike Shatzin, I think AmazonCrossing is the bigger deal because it illustrates the big picture that much more: Amazon truly considers itself a publisher, eager to battle trade publishing on familiar turf like editorial and marketing and intent on not just winning, but winning big. Dominating the e-reading landscape? That's old hat, and there's more money to be made from being a smaller fish in a larger pond occupied by so-called "frenemies" like Apple or Google. Going on a hiring binge? Sure, that signifies something important, which is that Amazon doesn't want to stop the massive profit party of the last couple of quarters by stagnating.
I agree with her in principle, but I think her understanding of how Amazon view themselves is wrong. Amazon are first and foremost a tech company. They're not a retailer, ereader & software developer, or a publisher. If Amazon think of themselves as anything, it would be "innovator". Amazon got into web retailing because they thought they could do it better (and turn a profit). The same applies to all of Amazon's ventures.
Still, I think she's right. Amazon is a game changer. We've already seen what happened with ebooks. You have to agree that when Amazon announced the Kindle they ignited the ebook market. Amazon are going to try to do the same for publishing.