Odyssean Wylie, Book II

Thomas Jones · Wylie and Random House make up

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 publish 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.


  • 27 August 2010 at 10:01am
    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...

  • 27 August 2010 at 10:15am
    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.

    • 27 August 2010 at 11:03am
      Joe Morison says: @ A.J.P. Crown
      I'm sure Their Majesties are thrilled.

  • 28 August 2010 at 7:19am
    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.

  • 28 August 2010 at 7:20am
    outofdate says:
    Dawkins'. Hoist with me own petard.

    • 28 August 2010 at 7:44am
      outofdate says: @ outofdate
      Hoist twice, because had I bothered to scroll down I'd have found that Polyphemus' people were indeed the Cyclopes. Delete all three comments, there's a kind editor. (Shouldn't come too hard, I'm perhaps in no very strong position to add, what with all the deletory practice you've been getting lately.)

    • 28 August 2010 at 7:44pm
      Joe Morison says: @ outofdate
      You have my sympathy, passé one, we all blunder but in cyber space our screams are never silenced.

    • 29 August 2010 at 1:51am
      outofdate says: @ Joe Morison
      Thanking you kindly. Also for suggesting a nice new alias with which to try and fail to cover my tracks.

    • 30 August 2010 at 11:34am
      Yes, I really thought I was on to a winner...

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