Today Amazon demonstrated once again that publishers aren't the gatekeepers anymore; they can be reduced to subcontractors by a wily negotiator. They've just signed another deal with Houghton Mifflin Harcourt.
HMH has been handling the printing and distribution of about a dozen of Amazon's titles since last spring, and starting in the next few months that will grow. HMH's newly named New Harvest imprint is now going to handle print distribution of all adult titles published by Amazon’s East Coast Group. The deal covers all markets in NA aside from Amazon.com. HMH is also going to continue to work with Amazon’s Seattle-based imprints, which include AmazonEncore, AmazonCrossing, Thomas & Mercer, Montlake Romance and 47North.
This is rather curious deal, when you look at it from the viewpoint of HMH. They're playing second fiddle to aa retailer who is beginning to be loathed in the publishing industry. On the other hand, I'm not sure that HMH really has much of choice. They've reportedly been having money issues for the past couple years, so they might have been more willing than most to sign on with Amazon (read: desperate).
Of course, the other thing that you can takeaway from today's news: print is still king.