Publishers and the retail channel are hurting because they haven’t been convinced that knowledge and information can’t be locked into books.

But it’s never been a better time for authors and thought leaders with ideas to share

Amplify’d from

What if you could ask the author of a book a question while you were reading the book? That’s the kind of world Amazon wants to offer with its new @author feature, which the online bookstore launched on Wednesday with a group of writers including Susan Orlean and self-help guru Tim Ferriss. Readers can ask questions directly from their Kindles while they are reading a book, and the question gets sent to the author’s Twitter account as well as to their home page at Amazon. In addition to creating what the company hopes will be a kind of reader community around Kindle titles — something it has been pushing in other ways as well — this new feature looks like another step in Amazon’s quest to cut publishers out of the equation and build relationships directly with authors.

The rise of the self-publishing superstar

Among those who have taken advantage of this phenomenon are Amanda Hocking, who started writing Kindle books for young adults a little over a year ago and managed to bring in more than $2 million in revenue without the help of a traditional publisher or agent. That performance convinced the publishing world to take another look, and Hocking signed a $2-million multi-book deal with St, Martin’s Press earlier this year. Other self-publishers such as Konrath have continued to promote the benefits of self-publishing (my colleague Cyndy Aleo has a series of posts based on interviews with young adult authors about self-publishing).