A few weeks ago the London-based literary agent Andrew Wylie announced that he was forming his own publishing company named Odyssey Editions in order to publish the agency’s clients in electronic book format; and that Odyssey had signed an exclusive deal with Amazon, so that those e-books would only be available for the Kindle e-reader.
Much of the indie-author* / self-publishing community saw this as a Good Thing.
1) They felt that this was evidence that the dominance of the big publishing houses was crumbling, and power was transferring from the gatekeepers to the authors (although quite how this could be I haven’t yet worked out, with a literary agent and Amazon controlling the books concerned);
2) and that it was evidence that mainstream publishing was broken, and the indie authors were perfectly placed to take advantage of it.
The people on the side of mainstream publishing, however, had other concerns.
1) There’s a startling conflict of interests to be got round when an agency sells its own clients’ work to its own publishing company;
2) Random House felt that it already owned some of the rights which Wylie had just signed over to Odyssey and Amazon and announced that until this was rectified it would no longer consider any of Wylie’s clients for publication;
3) it’s difficult to see how this can be in the best interests of the authors concerned: their e-book rights are now restricted to the Kindle, which prevents them from reaching those people who only read, or have access to, other e-book platforms such as the Nook and the Sony e-reader (and while I realise that there is a Kindle app for the iPad, the PC etc., there’s a decent amount of anecdotal evidence which suggests that these extensions of the Kindle don’t work nearly as well as they should).
So what do you think? What’s the most important thing about Wylie and Odyssey Editions? Do you regard it as a fabulous opportunity for writers to grab control? Do you think that Wylie has made a wrong move here, and is not looking after his writers’ interests? And why is there such a gulf between the opinions of mainstream and self-publishing, once again?
* Which are not the same as independent publishers, as we know.