Publishers are not too happy with the fact that some prominent authors are deciding to bypass traditional publishers to strike better deals with Amazon. Wylie Agency’s move to launch Odyssey Editions has enraged some of the big players in the publishing industry. Odyssey Editions will bring top modern classic works to Amazon Kindle store. Since some of the authors that will be part of this new initiative have worked with those traditional publishers in the past, it was only a matter of time before those big boys came out swinging.
Random House was unsurprisingly fuming with Wylie Agency’s decision:
The Wylie Agency’s decision to sell ebooks exclusively to Amazon for titles which are subject to active Random House agreements undermines our longstanding commitments to and investments in our authors, and it establishes this Agency as our direct competitor,
said Stuart Applebaum, a spokesman for Random House publishing. This move is going to open a whole new can of worms and pit authors against publishers. Authors have been asking for more royalty from some of these publishers (especially with e-books being cheaper to make), so this move was bound to happen. But who holds the digital rights to these e-books is not that clear. A legal challenge could happen down the road.
Macmillian’s US Chief, John Sargent, was clearly not happy about this deal either:
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. We disseminate our books and the ideas within them as broadly as possible. Independent booksellers across the country are making plans to launch their e-bookstores this Fall. Now they will not have these books available and Amazon will. These are the very folks who helped make many of these books bestsellers in the first place. 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?
Unfortunately, this is not a white or black issue. Authors deserve all they can get for their works. The top publishers’ stubbornness to improve their deals with their authors has played a part in this development. I am not a fan of a single store holding exclusive rights to a work. But one can’t argue that the deal must have been very significant for Wylie Agency to make this move. Since Amazon Kindle works are available across multiple platforms, these authors’ works will get the attention they deserve. Maybe this move will make large publishers step up their game? It’s not an ideal move, but one that was bound to happen.