Amazon Launches Jet City Comics

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Amazon.com Inc.’s (AMZN) publishing division has launched Jet City Comics, a new imprint offering graphic novels and comics.

Jet City will contain new works from George R.R. Martin, Neal Stephenson and Hugh Howey among others. Jet City issues will be published on Kindle both as standalone and serialized comics. Further, Amazon will also offer them as bundled graphic novels. The printed versions will be available at amazon.com as well as through other comic retailers.

Jet City Comics will join other Amazon publishing titles such as 47North, AmazonCrossing, AmazonEncore, Montlake Romance, Thomas & Mercer, Little A, Day One, Two Lions and Skyscape.

By offering digital versions of comics and graphic novels on its Kindle range of tablets, Amazon is striving to grab more market share from Apple, which is currently dominating the tablet space. It also provides an entry point for young readers, getting them hooked to its ecosystem.

Amazon Publishing, the publishing arm of Amazon.com, started in May 2009. It is a self-publishing platform that allows the publication of a series of books under any name. In Jun 2012, Amazon acquired Avalon Books, a 62-year-old publishing company for an undisclosed amount. The acquisition provided Amazon with 3,000 titles, which helped it to further expand its titles in the romance, mystery and Western genres.

Amazon Publishing allows authors to earn 70% of revenues from their work. It publishes within minutes and the books appear on Amazon sites within two days. Since the books are available for all Kindle devices and free Kindle reading apps, they immediately reach a large number of the reading population. Moreover, because it offers publishing in multiple languages, authors are able to reach non-English speaking people in any country where Amazon’s Kindle has a presence.

With the recent boom in technology and the popularity of ebooks, Amazon needs to put in its best to have a successful publishing business with high quality books in its list. Over the past year, Amazon has been taking every possible step to expand its catalog and remains one of the favorite players for book lovers in the fast-growing e-commerce market.

Amazon has increased focus on its own publishing business to boost the company’s margins in the book-selling business. However, this places Amazon in direct competition with publishers, who are also the principal suppliers (middle-men) for this business. Amazon’s strategy has the potential to push publishers out of business because it is offering books faster and cheaper thus satisfying both writers and readers.  

Amazon is one of the leading players in the extremely fast-growing retail e-commerce market. While the strong growth prospects are making the market more competitive by the day, Amazon continues to maintain and even grow its share on the back of its consistent and reliable services. Amazon’s scale of offerings, its broad reach and platform approach are the key to its success.

In the first quarter of fiscal 2013, Amazon reported revenues of $16.07 billion, down 24.4% sequentially but up 21.9% from the year-ago quarter. This was in line with management guidance of $15.0–$16.6 billion (down 25.7% sequentially but up 19.8% year over year at the mid-point). Reported revenues narrowly missed our expectations. Year-over-year revenue growth was 24%, excluding unfavorable currency impact.

Amazon currently has a Zacks Rank #2 (Buy). Other stocks that are worth considering include Rambus Inc. (RMBS), Omnivision Tech Inc. (OVTI) and Diodes Inc. (DIOD) all of which have a Zacks Rank #1 (Strong Buy).

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