The news that everyone is talking about is agent Andrew Wylie's move to deal directly and exclusively with Amazon for e-book rights to many classic works by authors such as Vladimir Nabokov, Hunter S. Thompson, Philip Roth, and more. Basically, the original contracts for these books were signed before e-books were a glimmer in Jeff Bezos' eye, and Wylie is taking the stance that these rights belong to the authors and not the publishers.
This, as they say, is a pretty big deal for publishers. As author Jason Pinter writes in the Huffington Post, backlist sales represent a huge amount of money for publishers, and could drastically affect the publishers' revenue in the future if they don't have e-book rights to their backlist.
The publishers themselves have reacted strongly. Macmillan CEO John Sargent released a strongly worded statement, and Random House announced that they "would be taking appropriate action" and would not do any business with Wylie's agency until the matter is resolved. For his part, Wylie told the Times that Random House's response took him by surprise, and that he needed some time to think about the situation before responding.
For analysis of what this all means and the full ramifications, definitely check out Pinter's HuffPo article, Kassia Krozser's recent post on the matter, and Publishers Weekly's new PWxyz blog has a good roundup of the reactions around the Internet.
And meanwhile, there was other big e-book news as Amazon announced that e-books have been outselling hardcovers on Amazon for several months. It's not quite apples to apples considering the lower price of e-books, but still, another benchmark as e-books continue their rise.
And yet amid all of this e-book hullaballo, @OtherLisa linked to an article about how indie bookstore sales have risen this year. Go indies go!!!!
In life of a writer news, Tahereh has the five stages of querying, Susanna Daniel wrote an article on the quiet hell of taking ten years to write a novel, and oh yeah, now might be a good time to link to San Francisco legend Broke Ass Stuart's guide to the best literary bars in San Francisco.
Oh, and if that doesn't work you can cheer yourself up with the Times' recent interview with author Ken Follet, who got started writing novels because he needed £200 to fix his car. And now he could probably buy General Motors!
Author Hannah Moskowitz tackled a topic that has been popping up around the publishosphere: the notion that boys read middle grade but not YA, either skipping YA to move straight to adult fiction or not reading altogether. Hannah's take on the subject is definitely worth a read.
And in author promotion news, Donna Gephart has a terrific post by the great Cynthia Leitich Smith about coming up with a promotion plan for your book.
Oh, and speaking of which, JACOB WONDERBAR is available for pre-order! Which is a trip and a half! Maybe two trips!
This week in the Forums: video gamers reveal themselves and discuss the video games, one star reviews of the world's great novels, people discuss their favorite fantasy novels, and of course, how do you celebrate when you finish a book?
Comment! Of! The! Week! goes to Scott, who I thought had an interesting and provocative take on the coming e-book era, and whose comment is great in whole. Some snippets:
Literature is following and will continue to follow the trend of the Information Age: we're not going to take the seller's word for it, we're going to look at other consumers' experiences and make an informed decision... Blogs, Amazon reviews, word of Twittermouth, aggregate sites that are not affiliated with the seller (RottenTomatoes, GameSpot, GoodReads)...
As you listen more, you find people and voices you trust-- it might be Nathan's blog, it might be your brother who reads lots of that genre, it might be a guy in Connecticut who lives in a treehouse and writes Amazon reviews on a lot of related products he's tried...
Most of the conversation above has been about finding and protecting good writing, but I challenge the assumption that that's even what anyone is looking for. It's definitely a huge plus, but what people want is value, not quality...
And finally, I missed this last week, but the Old Spice Guy had a pretty hilarious take on libraries, or as he calls them, places that contain "written words, and written words are the non-pictures that convey anything to other minds." But then! Only on the Internet in 2010, the Old Spice Guy was upstaged by a BYU library's parody of... the Old Spice Guy... on libraries. It's all so meta my brain hurts from my brain hurting from the metaness. Um. Anyway, here are both videos:
Have a great weekend!