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.”