Amazon Publishing wins bidding battle for London plague thriller

Amazon Publishing in the UK has won a rights auction for Cath Quinn’s historical thriller The Thief Taker in a bidding war with three other publishers.

The deal shows the ambition of Amazon to make inroads in European publishing as it has picked up English language world rights and German language rights.

The German market is potentially lucrative for ebooks as there is still a system of price controls for books in the country, with the result that self-published titles predominate among the ebook bestsellers and prices are higher than in the UK or US.

Quinn’s book is set in 17th century London at the time of the plague and will be published this autumn by mystery imprint Thomas & Mercer.

She is a journalist and bestselling self-published cross-category author writing as JS Taylor, who has sold over 150,000 books in the US and UK in the last year with a series of adult romance titles in the Spotlight and Starlight series under her Devoted Books imprint.

The new deal was notable for several points in that Amazon Publishing have generally been reluctant to pay significant advances and it was conducted through a leading UK literary agency, Sheil Land Associates.

It has been reported that AP offered a better digital royalty rate than traditional publishers, which generally offer only 25% for ebook royalties.

Previous Amazon Publishing offers to self-published authors have been reported in the region of 35% for ebooks, effectively half of the self-published rate, but they should have some leeway for higher rates as even at 50% they would be making considerably more than the 30% they take on self-published titles.

The deal will obviously focus very much on ebooks as most UK bookstores refuse to stock Amazon Publishing print books.