Literary Agent Plans E-Book Editions
The literary agent Andrew Wylie said on Wednesday that he would begin his own publishing venture, called Odyssey Editions, which will produce e-book editions of titles by some of his clients, including Saul Bellow, John Updike and Philip Roth. Mr. Wylie said his new company would focus on older titles whose digital rights are not owned by traditional publishers
Stories like this became inevitable as e-readers gained traction. Digital text so undercuts the resources the big publishing houses have to offer– printing presses, marketing budgets, relationships with the mega-bookstores– that “name” authors can bypass long established distribution channels and sell their work directly to the reader, with amazon.com and other sites serving as conduits. The publishers are howling but it’s really far too late.
Lesser stars in the literary firmament will, I think, benefit as well from these shifts– their work will no longer go out of print or be tossed into remainder bins at the giant mall bookstores to make way for the next Dan Brown commodity, instead staying permanently and instantly available online. And unlike used books, they will get paid for each sale.
For unknown writers, the rise of digital text is a very exciting development, with lots of new opportunities to get work out into the wilds. I don’t know how many folks will still be interested in books (digital or otherwise) as the future comes avalanching down upon us, but at least it will be available should they choose to enjoy the analog pleasures of reading.