Wednesday, August 25, 2010

Did "The Jackal" lose his teeth? Or gain good terms for his authors? Or...

Clicking on the picture at the left gets you the original article on the Odyssey Edition, the title of which included an advisory to back up any e-books you bought from that set, because they were not likely to last long, and if you inadvertently deleted a copy thinking you could re-download it later, Amazon would no longer have it.

In fairness to Wylie, he did say that he mainly wanted to get Random House back to the table concerning author share of revenue from backlisted books.  And my guess is that he got some decent terms for his clients.
  For one thing, Random House was unsuccessful with their lawsuit against RosettaBooks LLC in 2001.  The press sees it as a total win for Random House, however, since there's no indication, so far, of any advantage gained for the authors.  Still, he earned his nickname, so I expect he got some concessions.

NPR's Associated Press story reports that Invisible Man, Rabbit Is Rich and 11 other works were being "removed" from the Odyssey set brokered between Wylie and Amazon that gave Amazon exclusive rights for two years.

Random House will publish the books on a "non-exclusive basis."

E-editions of seven works represented by Wylie, but first released by publishers other than Random House, including Norman Mailer's The Naked and the Dead and William Burroughs' Junky, are still being sold exclusively through Amazon and released by Odyssey Editions.

Here's the press release released by Wylie and Random House's Chairman/CEO Markus Dohle:
' The Wylie Agency – Random House Joint Press Statement
August 24, 2010

"We are pleased to announce that The Wylie Agency and Random House have resolved our differences over the disputed Random House titles which have been included in the Odyssey Editions e-book publishing program. These titles are being removed from that program and taken off-sale. We have agreed that Random House shall be the exclusive e-book publisher of these titles for those territories in which Random House U.S. controls their rights. The titles soon will be available for sale on a non-exclusive basis through all of Random House's current e-book customers. Random House is resuming normal business relations with the Wylie Agency for English-language manuscript submissions and potential acquisitions, and we both are glad to be able to put this matter behind us."

--- Markus Dohle, Chairman & CEO, Random House
Andrew Wylie, President, The Wylie Agency LLC '

As I wrote in the original article on Wylie/Amazon:
' Be sure to do BACKUPS of these books
Hoyle adds, "His ambitions for the new publishing company are global but he also admits that he is happy to pull the plug on it if it frightens the publishers back to the negotiating table. 'It can be dismantled with the flick of a switch.'"

 This means that they could withdraw the e-books from the Amazon servers during any future negotiations with the publishers. '

It didn't take long, considering that some felt Amazon must have had some strong language in their Agreement with Wylie.

Here's the Wall Street Journal take on the turn of events.

The New York Times said that since mid July, Random House "has refused to acquire new books from the Wylie Agency and its more than 700 clients."

While Random House wouldn't disclose the financial terms of the agreement, the NYT writes that they "said they were consistent with agreements that Random House had reached with other literary agencies on backlist e-book rights."
  If so, that's not good news for authors.

The remaining seven books in the Odyssey Edition are by Saul Bellow, Jorge Luis Borges, William S. Burroughs, Louise Erdrich, Norman Mailer, Oliver Sacks and Evelyn Waugh. notes those are not exactly safe either, as there will be negotiations on those.  They note he might have gotten some "really good terms" from Random House though.

  The Odyssey Edition books were still available from Amazon when they wrote the piece.
  And they still are, at the moment.  Some reading this blog article might want to get some of them instead of the coming Random House editions, although Random House is not part of the Big5 involved in the new Agency pricing.  They have had some higher pricing of their own though.  And these could be a form of digi-collectors' items someday :-).  More seriously, some have felt that $10 seemed high for backlist e-books.

Remaining Odyssey titles and their print publishers are:
The Adventures of Augie March by Saul Bellow (UK print Penguin/US print publisher Penguin)
Ficciones by Jorge Luis Borges (Everyman/Penguin))
Junky by William S Burroughs (Penguin/Penguin)
Love Medicine by Louise Erdrich (HarperCollins/HarperCollins)
The Naked and the Dead by Norman Mailer (HarperCollins/Picador)
The Man Who Mistook His Wife for a Hat by Oliver Sacks (Picador/Touchstone)
Brideshead Revisited by Evelyn Waugh (Penguin/Back Bay Books)

Check often: Temporarily-free late-listed non-classics or recently published ones
  Guide to finding Free Kindle books and Sources.  Top 100 free bestsellers.
    Also, UK customers should see the UK store's Top 100 free bestsellers. Below are ways to Share this post if you'd like others to see it.
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  1. All of the Wylie titles are still live at 9 pm eastern time Wed Aug 25 for a Canadian account. I live in Toronto.

  2. That's very interesting, Alexander.

    I bought one of them today.

    Amazon may be waiting on legal procedures since it was a one-way decision on Wylie's part and he'd made some kind of agreement with Amazon.

    There's so much drama in all these publisher /author /agent /bookseller interactions these days...


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