The Wylie Agency’s e-book exclusivity dispute with the publishing industry continues to dominate. (Random House vs Agents On E-Books) Everyone’s got a different opinion about Andrew Wylie’s decision to start his own imprint and broker an exclusive e-book deal with Amazon. While Wylie’s actions led the Random House Publishing Group to view him as a competitor and not do business with him, his maverick move has given leverage to agents all over the lit landscape right now, one dealmaker just told me. “Publisher contract divisions are starting to acknowledge that the e-book author-house percentages are changing. They are verbally promising and writing into contracts clauses that say these percentages will be revisited when the books are published.” Now the American Booksellers Association, the guardian angel of the independent booksellers, just weighed in via their Bookselling This Week weekly membership newsletter:
Last week’s news of literary agent Andrew Wylie’s exclusive agreement with Amazon.com to publish Kindle editions of 20 backlist titles by notable writers represented by Wylie provoked strong reactions among some major publishers and elicited extensive industry discussion regarding the implications of this potential disintermediation. On Wednesday, July 21, Wylie announced the launch of Odyssey Editions and its exclusive deal with Amazon.com. Under the agreement, backlist titles by such contemporary authors as John Updike, Louise Erdrich, and Saul Bellow would be available for the first time as e-books, but could be purchased only from Amazon.com in its proprietary Kindle edition format… Regarding the launch of Wylie’s Odyssey Editions, ABA CEO Oren Teicher said, “The issues sparked by evolving business models in the rapidly developing world of digital publishing are multifaceted and, at times, complex. However, from the perspective of independent booksellers one important reality is unchanged: Diminishing the availability of titles and narrowing the options for readers can only harm our society in the long run. That the Wylie agency has sought to distribute these works through a single retailer is bad for the book industry and bad for consumers. Books — in whatever format — are crucibles of ideas and unique expression, and we should be doing all that we can to expand, not constrict, readers’ access to them.”
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