After a monthlong standoff, Random House said on Tuesday that it now held the rights to publish e-book editions of 13 classic books that the literary agent Andrew Wylie had defiantly begun publishing last month under his own digital venture, Odyssey Editions.
Random House also said it would immediately resume doing new business with the Wylie Agency. Since July 22, the publisher has refused to acquire new books from the Wylie Agency and its more than 700 clients.
“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,” said a joint statement signed by Markus Dohle, the chairman and chief executive of Random House, and Mr. Wylie. It added: “We both are glad to be able to put this matter behind us.”
A literary agency’s decision to publish e-editions of ”Lolita,” ”Invisible Man” and other classics and sell them exclusively through Amazon.com received a mixed response from the Authors Guild, which represents thousands of published writers.In an e-mail sent Monday to authors, the Guild defended the Wylie Agency’s right to sell e-books of older works without the publisher’s permission, but also criticized excluding Amazon’s competitors and worried about ”serious potential conflicts of interest” when an agent becomes a publisher.
”The most obvious of these (conflicts) is the possibility of self-dealing to the detriment of the agency’s client, the author,” the Guild’s message said. ”A major agency starting a publishing company is weird, no matter how you look at it.”
Except when you look at it as another indication that publishing is dramatically changing. The change is happening at such a fast pace that even the Guild is having trouble grasping it.