Wylie World Deflates

  From news reports around the world today it is now known that Random House and literary agent Andrew Wylie have reached an agreement over the control of digital publishing rights of authors represented by the Wylie agency and published in the U. S. by Random House.  Apparently Random House controls those rights.

But whether this agreement occurred as a result of legal authority or through Random House's threat not to do business with Wylie's clients we do not know.  Wylie's overnight enterprise, Odyssey Editions, still apparently has digital rights to the works of Saul Bellow, Norman Mailer, William Burroughs, and Oliver Sacks.

The day we heard at Square Books that Wylie had created an exlusive arrangement with Amazon to publish e-book editions, we immediately created a window display of Wylie authors' books, all tagged with a "This book NOT for sale" bookmark, as a way of demonstrating the harmful potential that such a monopoly held for readers.

We also do not know whether Wylie's move came out of frustration over the transition to the digital market that he or his clients may have thought was too slow or because it was simply a play for more dough -- for the owners of intellectual property and, naturally, the Jackal himself.  One thing is clear -- this sort of balls-out internecine skirmishing in what was once known as the book world is a frightening indication of things to come.  For now, as ABA's Oren Teicher said today, "It sounds like good news.  We've always felt that exclusivity is never good and if this means that Wylie authors' e-books will now be available to all retailers, the reading public will benefit."   RH