“Such are the perfections of fiction...Everything it teaches is useless insofar as structuring your life: you can’t prop up anything with fiction. It, in fact, teaches you just that. That in order to attempt to employ its specific wisdom is a sign of madness...There is more profit in an hour’s talk with Billy Graham than in a reading of Joyce. Graham might conceivably make you sick, so that you might move, go somewhere to get well. But Joyce just sends you out into the street, where the world goes on, solid as a bus. If you met Joyce and said 'Help me,' he’d hand you a copy of Finnegans Wake. You could both cry.” – Gilbert Sorrentino, Imaginative Qualities of Actual Things

Friday, July 23, 2010

The Literary Agent as Publisher

There was a huge announcement yesterday from U.S. mega-literary agent, Andrew Wylie, who will be launching an ebook imprint called Odyssey Editions. Odyssey editions will serve as an ebook publisher for Wylie's clients. No big deal, right? Wrong! Have a quick peek at some of Wylie's clients who'll be using the service:

'Odyssey Editions will begin modestly, with 20 titles that have never been available in e-book format. Among them are “Invisible Man” by Ralph Ellison, “The Naked and the Dead” by Norman Mailer, “Midnight’s Children” by Salman Rushdie, “Lolita” by Vladimir Nabokov and “Fear and Loathing in Las Vegas,” by Hunter S. Thompson.'

Those aren't exactly literary upstarts. More importantly, these ebook editions will actually be competing against the hardcopies produced by the publishers of these authors. The profits from the ebook sales will go to Wylie and his authors, meaning the publishers just got cut out of the ebook equation by (arguably) the world’s most important literary agency. Yikes!

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