Andrew Wylie, photo by Eamonn McCabe
Standoff ends: It was only a month ago that literary agent Andrew Wylie, in a challenge to publishers who resisted negotiating new terms with authors over e-book rights, announced his own e-publishing venture called Odyssey Editions and offered exclusively on Amazon twenty backlist titles ($9.99 each) by his clients, including Lolita, Invisible Man, and Portnoy's Complaint. Whether Wylie's move was a bluff, a taunt, or an earnest expansion of his business, Random House wasted no time in responding, ceasing all new English-language business with the tony lit agency. This was undoubtedly uncomfortable for both parties, and yesterday Wylie and Random House CEO Markus Dohle released this joint statement:
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.
So who conceded what? The phrase "differences over the disputed Random House titles" begs the question of just what this standoff was really about: backlist e-rights, or e-rights for new books? The answer is both, but the more pressing is of course those rights involving new business, and the publishing company's ongoing refusal to see e-books as subject to anything but traditional terms (unlike other houses). Now, Wylie has agreed to remove all but seven of its Odyssey titles from Amazon, and it's plausible that this was part of his plan all along: force the publishing giant's hand, and then shut Odyssey down. All in time for the end of summer.
Via Bookslut: Chauncey Mabe casts a cool eye on Jennifer Weiner and Jodi Picoult's charge that the New York Times favors white men like Jonathan Franzen. Mabe explains that the Times actually trashed Franzen's last book. But his point that Picoult and Weiner should be happy with popularity (but not critical accolades) is intriguing: Isn't mass popularity one of the things Franzen rejected during the Oprah Winfrey debacle? Discuss.
In a new book review video, the Washington Post's Ron Charles delivers a parody of "hip" literary culture. It's kind of funny, but also a parody of how clueless book reviewers can be.
The New Yorker Festival, which will take place between October 1st and 3rd, has started announcing its 2010 roster, which includes Stephen King (talking about the ongoing vampire craze), music critic Alex Ross (on bass lines), actor Patricia Clarkson, and filmmaker Werner Herzog. Meanwhile, the Brooklyn Book Festival continues to build its stellar list of events: Sarah Silverman, Ta-Nehisi Coates, Joshua Clover, Matthew Sharpe, and Rob Sheffield DJing at the Bell House.