Amazon’s latest triumph of hope over experience comes to an end with the slow realisation that the India publishing industry, even if you own the largest digital platform in the world and have bought a successful home-grown publishing house with some of the country’s biggest author brands, is not a get rich quick scheme.
India has long been a triumph of hope over experience for Amazon, which has invested billions in the hope of one day returning profit from this huge market of 1.4 billion people, 755 million of whom are online.
And the latest triumph of hope over experience would appear to have come to an end with Amazon’s slow realisation that the India publishing industry, even if you own the largest digital platform in the world and have bought a successful home-grown publishing house with some of the country’s biggest author brands, is not a get rich quick scheme.
This week Westland CEO Gautam Padmanabhan told Westland employees the bad news, but a lot of detail remains unclear at this stage.
We don’t know, and likely never will, whether Westland ran at a loss for Amazon, but we can safely say Amazon is taking a loss by not selling on the company, rather choosing to close it down and absorb the human assets into the system. That of course being a reflection of how Amazon does business, not of Westland. Amazon buys, grows and profits from its acquisitions or buries them, to ensure a competitor doesn’t pick up the pieces.
In this case Amazon acquired Westland from Tata Trent back in 2016, and of course used its own platform to promote the books of its publishing company, just as it does APub – although interestingly Amazon never sought to meld Westland with APub.
Might that happen now?
No word from Amazon on this, but to TNPS it does seem a distinct possibility. Because Westland is sitting on a lot of author assets in the terms of contracted titles and commitments, and to just hand these back to the authors and let them publish elsewhere simply flies in the face of the way Amazon operates.
A statement from Amazon explained simply:
After a thorough review, we have made the difficult decision to no longer operate Westland. We are working closely with the employees, authors, agents, and distribution partners on this transition and we remain committed to innovating for customers in India.
Per Scroll.In, Westland has a turnover of about Rs 300 million ($4 million), which even by Indian publishing revenues is not something for Amazon to get excited over.