According to accounts from sources, James Atlas, founder of the independent publishing house Atlas & Co., has joined Amazon Publishing and his indie house has stopped releasing frontlist titles. Atlas is said to have reached an agreement with Amazon's Larry Kirshbaum to publish a series of short biographies for Amazon Publishing.
While Atlas did not return phone calls or e-mails asking for confirmation—typically, new hires at Amazon Publishing decline to return calls from the press—a spokesperson for W.W. Norton, which has distributed titles from Atlas & Co. (and its predecessor Atlas Books) since 2002, said that while Norton will continue to distribute the Atlas and Co. backlist, “he’s not publishing new titles with us.” Amazon did not return an e-mail asking for comment.
Atlas is a noted biographer himself (Bellow: A Biography, 2002; and Delmore Schwartz: The Life of An American Poet, 2000), and as a publisher he developed a reputation for releasing quality nonfiction with an emphasis on biography.
In addition to his own books, Atlas is best known as a publisher for launching Penguin Lives, a discontinued line of short but highly regarded biographies; for Eminent Lives, another biography series co-published with HarperCollins, and Great Discoveries, a nonfiction series on scientific achievement, copublished with Norton.