Wylie’s Odyssey Editions Explained by Chad Post

In Hannah's Perspective by Hannah Johnson

By Hannah Johnson

Over at the Three Percent blog, Chad Post of Open Letter Books (and next week’s guest editor on Publishing Perspectives) wrote a great in-depth article on Wylie’s Odyssey Editions. He looks at the holes (or lack thereof, depending on whose side you’re on) that exist in publishing contracts of the past which encouraged Wylie to begin publishing e-book editions from authors who are already under contract with major publishing houses.

From Chad’s article:

Prior to the advent of ebooks, contracts would usually assign a publisher the right to “print, publish, and sell the work in book form,” which, pretty typical when it comes to book contracts, is a bit vague. I don’t know exactly what’s in a Random House contract, but obviously royalties rates for hardcover and paperback editions are stated, as are any and all subrights, such as splits for film or foreign sales. But what’s missing from most all of these is any mention of ebooks. Who really knew this would be an issue? And besides, doesn’t “book form” include electronic versions? It’s still a book, right?

Chad explains that in 2001, “Random House filed an injunction against the epublisher Rosetta Books, claiming that Rosetta had violated Random’s rights by publishing e-versions of a number of Random House titles. Unfortunately—for Random—they lost. (Here’s another summary of the case.)” So the legal precedent appears to be in favor of Wylie.

The article also addresses the various viewpoints on Odyssey Editions from players across the publishing industry, like authors, indie booksellers, indie publishers, literary agents other than Wylie, and of course, the big publishers whose authors’ e-books are now being published by Odyssey.

But is Wylie really looking to become a publisher or is there another motivation behind the creation of Odyssey? Chad concludes that “this seems more like a provocation to increase ebook royalties while making a little quick money for some of his big time authors.”

Read the rest of Chad’s article on Odyssey Editions. And don’t forget to check out Open Letter’s new releases (and their cool book cover designs).

About the Author

Hannah Johnson


Hannah Johnson is the publisher of international book industry magazine Publishing Perspectives, which provides daily information and news about book markets around the world. In addition to building partnerships with international cultural and trade organizations, she works with the Frankfurt Book Fair to organize and support a number of its overseas initiatives. Hannah has also worked as the managing editor for an online media company, The Hooch Life, focused on craft distillers and cocktail experts. Prior to that, she worked as a project manager for the Frankfurt Book Fair’s New York office, managing various business and marketing activities.