The big news today was when lit agent Andrew Wylie announced his own publishing imprint that would publish the digital backlist for his author clients. So far we have the response form 2 publishers; one is laughable and the other is puzzling.
Random House were the first to weigh in. You might recall the rights grab they tried back in December. Well, RH are still insisting that they have the rights to the backlist, and they're threatening to sue:
We are disappointed by Mr. Wylie's actions, which we dispute. Last night, we sent a letter to Amazon disputing their rights to legally sell these titles, which are subject to active Random House publishing agreements. Upon assessing our business options, we will be taking appropriate action.
Ha. Do they really expect us to beleive that an old hand like Andrew Wylie didn't triple check the old contracts before signing the new ones?
Macmillan are the puzzling one. I've read the post that John Sargent left on the Macmillan blog, and I'm concerned about the tenous grasp he has with reality. I'm going to take his response point by point, and show you how strange it is.
I am appalled, however, that Andrew has chosen to give his list exclusively to a single retailer. A basic tenet of publishing is that our function is to reach as many readers as we can.
No It's Not. The basic tenet of publishing is to make money. If he doesn't know that then he shouldn't be running a major publisher. And I would say it's rather obvious that Andrew Wylie got the best deal
And what of Barnes & Noble, Borders, Books-A-Million, and others? As they promote the frontlist books for which Andrew is the agent, they are not going to be able to sell his publishing backlist in digital form . . . while their competitor can?
Is he afraid their feelings would be hurt?
Damn Andrew Wylie for bruising the egos of multi-million dollar corporations.
BTW, what makes you think they would notice? What makes you think they know who has the digital rights, or even care? Right now digital rights are in such a muddle that these 20 titles are a drop in the tsunami.
In the long run, though, making literature exclusively available digitally to a single retailer will be damaging to the whole book community: authors, agents, publishers, and readers.
Why, exactly*? (Note that he doesn't prove this; he merely states it.) And BTW, this point is irrelevant. No one acts in the interest of the group; they act in their own best interest.
* Could someone give an answer to the last question, please? I'd really like to know.