Amazon has bought the rights to 35 titles in Ed McBain's long-running 87th Precinct series, along with rights to 12 titles in the author's Matthew Hope series. Through the deal, Amazon's recently announced mystery and suspense imprint, Thomas & Mercer, will release print, digital and audio versions of the 87th Precinct titles, starting in fall 2011. The Matthew Hope books, which Thomas & Mercer will start publishing in spring 2012, will be available in digital and audio, with some titles coming out in print. None of these titles have been available as e-books before.

The deal, which Jane Gelfman of Gelfman Schneider brokered, marks the first major backlist acquisition Amazon has closed since announcing its collection of new genre imprints in its Amazon Publishing division. Philip Patrick, head of rights and licensing at Amazon Publishing, said he thinks this deal speaks to Amazon's ability to breathe new digital life into the print backlist of any number of authors. "One of the things we think Amazon Publishing can do is offer signature authors a new life for great backlist titles. Our agreement with the McBain estate is a perfect example of this approach.”

Ed McBain, the psuedonym for Evan Hunter, died in 2005.