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Odyssean Wylie, Book II

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Everyone breathe easy: Andrew Wylie and Random House are friends again. As the headline in the Bookseller would have it, the publisher has won the battle: the literary agent has agreed not to release electronic versions of Random House titles under his own imprint, Odyssey Editions (a name perhaps implicitly casting Random House and the other big publishers as Polyphemus and the Cyclopes). In return, however, Wylie has won a better deal on royalties, at least for the big-name writers under dispute, or in many cases their estates. Boyd Tonkin suggested in the Independent last month that this may have been his plan all along. And Wylie more or less admitted what he was up to in an interview with the Financial Times a couple of days later:

I am only trying to make a point in order to underscore the importance of getting the right terms with a view to uniting the two [print and digital] revenue streams.

Point emphatically made and, it would seem, taken. (Wylie sails away laughing; publishers blindly hurl rocks into the sea.) The biggest loser is Amazon, who had an exclusive deal to sell the Odyssey books on Kindle. But few people will be shedding any tears over that.

Comments on “Odyssean Wylie, Book II”

  1. Dan Holloway says:

    This would have been a dangerous startegy of course – and reminds me of that philosophical exercise from undergrad days about act utilitarian rulers and punishment. If everyone knows this is what Wylie was up to, there would have been no point in Random House offering more royalties.

    Surely the biggest losers are Random House – because they have shown themselves to be ransom-payers. The next few months will see HOW many agents pull a similar stunt…

    • Thomas Jones says:

      Not really dangerous, because Odyssey Editions, left alone, would have been a nice little earner.

      Not many other agents have the clout to do something similar. But they may all start demanding higher royalties for e-books – as indeed why shouldn’t they.

  2. A.J.P. Crown says:

    As well as King Abdullah II and Martin Amis, Andrew Wylie has some good writers on his list, so I’m glad for them. I’d rather they got the money than Amazon.

  3. outofdate says:

    You and your spelling. Cyclopes, it says here, is the genus of which the silky anteater is the only known species (which staggering feat of classification should be flung in Prof. Dawkin’s face like a rotten egg whenever he appears in public). The one-eyed geezer was Cyclops.

  4. outofdate says:

    Dawkins’. Hoist with me own petard.

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