Amazon.com has been redefining the way you buy books for ages now — and next up, they may be publishing the books you read, as well. Amazon Publishing just launched its fourth and biggest imprint, Montlake Romance. And the company has already said it plans to move beyond romance into other genres, including science fiction.

Thus far, Amazon's publishing operations have mostly been geared towards moving into niches that are harder for traditional publishers to compete in, including an imprint focusing on manifestos and one focusing on translated works. Thanks to Amazon's detailed data on its customers' purchases and reviews, the company is uniquely positioned to market niche books to its customers.

And Amazon has already signalled that it's aiming to reel in some big-ticket authors — the company already put in a competitive bid to publish Amanda Hocking, the paranormal romance author who became a self-publishing success story. (The winning bid for Hocking's novel was $4 million from St. Martin's, so Amazon's bid may well have been in the millions also.) So don't be too surprised if you start to hear some major buzz about science fiction books published by Amazon in the next few years. [Publishers Weekly and the Guardian]