Friday, May 20, 2011

eBook Opportunities Are Unlocked At The Sharpe End

‘Anything you can do I can do better!’ This was an old schoolyard jibe we have all witnessed.

We now have the publisher riposte to the actions of agents and literary estate taking the digital publishing route and becoming publishers. The Bookseller's FutureeBook blog report that Random House, who earlier had ‘lost’ Catherine Cookson to the digital initiative of her agent Sonia Land, have done a direct deal with author Tom Sharpe for his backlist e-book rights without recourse to his agent, who happens to be Sonia Land. Some may say a small skirmish, others ‘tit for tat’, and others refer to that old schoolyard jibe.

Forget the games, we now have been presented with a great opportunity to move the digital agenda forward. By responding this way some would suggest that Random House have effectively now admitted that digital is different and that volume rights etc don’t count and that the wording within the contract would appear to say ‘if digital is not specified its up for grabs’. It would tend to blow the ‘non compete’ clause out of the water or at least restrict it to the rights specified within the contract. If this is the case, then Random House may well regret the action, as it could leave them exposed to many digital exoduses.

This unlocking of the filing cabinet can only be good for authors and their estates and of course readers. We now have on one hand the publisher who has to act to digitise and potentially promote back list and on the other the agent is also freer to act themselves. A competitive market position which should be good for digital, authors and readers.

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