How is Thomas & Mercer, Amazon’s mystery imprint, doing?

How is Thomas & Mercer, Amazon’s mystery imprint, doing?

I’ve written before about how Amazon has become a traditional publisher.

I’m not talking about Kindle Direct Publishing, where publishers (who are often just the author) upload books and Amazon sells them and pays them a royalty.

I’m talking about Amazon selecting books, and taking editorial responsibility for them.

This is an important development. If Amazon can publish the books which would otherwise go to the traditional publishers, it changes the whole balance of power.

So, I was curious…how is Amazon doing?

What I decided to do was look at Thomas & Mercer, Amazon’s mystery & suspense imprint, and see how their topsellers are doing in the store, how many titles they have, and if authors do as well with them as they do with other publishers. The last one is hard to figure exactly, since no two books are the same. However, I could take a look at the author’s other popular books and compare rankings.

Thomas & Mercer
genre: mystery & thrillers
Thomas & Mercer books in the Kindle store

Top five titles:

You may have noticed that the books aren’t in order. Amazon’s popularity sort and their sales ranks don’t always match up, which is the case here. I don’t think they are updated at the same time, so they can get out of sync.

How are the authors doing with Thomas & Mercer?

All of the David Lender books in the Kindle store are published by T&M, so there isn’t a comparison to do.

Looking at Michael Wallace’s books, from most popular down:

  1. Independent
  2. T&M
  3. T&M
  4. T&M
  5. Independent
  6. T&M
  7. Balsalom (independent?)
  8. Balsalom
  9. Balsalom
  10. Independent

and then it goes on…forty titles (!) showed up in the search.

T&M does better for Wallace than the other choices…except for the very bestseller.

Both of Grundler’s books are T&M.

Aaron and Charlotte Elkins:

  1. T&M
  2. Independent
  3. Independent
  4. Westlake (independent?)
  5. Westlake
  6. Westlake

So, the Elkins benefit from T&M.

How about Nelson DeMille?

  1. T&M
  2. Grand Central (an imprint of Hachette, one of the big six US trade publishers)
  3. Grand Central
  4. Grand Central
  5. Grand Central
  6. Grand Central
  7. Grand Central
  8. Grand Central
  9. Grand Central
  10. Grand Central

and on through twenty titles.

That one is interesting! It could be because it’s a Kindle Single, but Amazon beating Hachette is pretty impressive.

T&M has also been spending money. They licensed the backlist for the Ed McBain books…and the original James Bond books (which should get a boost from the next Bond movie, Skyfall, opening November 9th). You have figure there was some bidding for those.

My opinion?

This is informed partially by my experience as a brick-and-mortar bookstore manager.

I think they are making it work, and doing better than might be expected. They are being somewhat conservative at this point, and that’s working for them.

They aren’t there yet, but the progress is good. I suspect that some brick-and-mortars, including Barnes & Noble, refusing to carry the books in paper is hurting. However, that will become less important in the next year or two (especially in the Barnes & Noble chains dwindle seriously as B&N concentrates on digital with the Microsoft cash influx).

Owning the major backlist like that will move people towards Amazon…if that means away from stores that choose not to carry them, so be it. They may have to change their minds…or give up and just sell toys. 🙂

If Amazon stays committed to this for another five years, they could be have a seat at the major players table.

What do you think? Will major authors have to pick sides…and will they pick Amazon? Will Amazon promote their tradpub books over the KDP? How important is the backlist to credibility? Feel free to let me and my readers know  your opinion by commenting on this post.

This post by Bufo Calvin originally appeared in the I Love My Kindle blog.

2 Responses to “How is Thomas & Mercer, Amazon’s mystery imprint, doing?”

  1. jadwriter Says:

    You mention backlists. I know a lot of authors, esp romance ones, that have self-published their backlists as ebooks on Amazon and Smashwords. I think a few of them have just done it on Amazon to see how it goes. And some of them have got more readers this way. I don’t know if Amazon will publish their tradpub books more, we shall have to see. Interesting times for us indies.

  2. The Kindle Chronicles - TKC 197 James McQuivey Says:

    […] Bufo Calvin analyzes results of Amazon’s Thomas & Mercer mystery imprint and finds them impressive. […]

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