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Amazon plucks wholesome publisher to boost original titles

The online retail giant acquires the publishing rights to 3,000 titles from Avalon Books, whose romance, western, and mystery books eschew sex, cursing, and excessive drinking.

Beefing up its portfolio of original content, Amazon today agreed to buy the publication rights for more than 3,000 backlist titles from wholesome romance, western, and mystery publisher Avalon Books, for an undisclosed amount.

The 62-year-old Avalon is a niche publisher whose authors include romance novelists such as Holly Jacobs, who wrote "Everything But A Groom," and Carolyn Hughey, author of "Shut Up & Kiss Me."

The titles may sound racy, but the content isn't. The guidelines listed on Avalon's Web site for authors submitting work includes such admonitions as, "No cursing throughout all of our books. Nothing heavier than a 'hell,' 'damn' in Westerns and Mysteries." The publisher also advises keeping drinking to a minimum and limiting sex to nothing more than a kiss or embrace.

Avalon's titles will merge into Amazon's existing publishing lineup. Romances will be published by Amazon's Montlake Romance imprint. Mystery titles will come from Amazon's Thomas and Mercer. And westerns will be published by Amazon Publishing.

The move is part of Amazon's broader strategy to boost the selection of books it publishes. The company, which has wrangled over the years with several publishers, wants greater control over the products it offers.

"Avalon has a long tradition in publishing wonderful stories that affirm a positive way of life," Philip Patrick, director of business development, rights and licensing at Amazon, said in a statement. "None of these titles have been digitized yet and we know Kindle customers will delight in this great new offering."