Wylie Agency Circumvent Publishers on e-Books with Odyssey Editions (Updated)

The Wylie Agency has launched an e-book imprint, Odyssey Editions, which will initially publish twenty titles of literature’s most influential authors exclusively through Amazon’s Kindle Store. This is potentially one of the most significant pieces of news this year in the publishing world, and perhaps for some time to come if Wylie continues to expand and utilize the availability of their authors’ e-book rights. Andrew Wylie pulled no punches last month when he was interviewed by Harvard Magazine. In the interview he said that the time had come to circumvent publishers and monetize unassigned digital book rights.

“We will take our 700 clients, see what rights are not allocated to publishers, and establish a company on their behalf to license those e-book rights directly to someone like Google, Amazon.com, or Apple.”

Today’s announcement by the Wylie Agency and Amazon delivers on that threat to publishers with the launch of Odyssey Editions for the Kindle. (see update from PW on Random House suggestion that the move by Wylie may be illegal)

(UPDATED Link-The Gloves are off!)
From some of the press release:

Amazon.com, Inc. today announced that The Wylie Agency is publishing 20 books from some of literature’s most influential authors through its new Odyssey Editions imprint (http://www.odysseyeditions.com/) and making them available for sale exclusively in the Kindle Store (www.amazon.com/kindlestore). This is the first time any of the titles–which include Norman Mailer’s “The Naked and the Dead,” Philip Roth’s “Portnoy’s Complaint” and Ralph Ellison’s “Invisible Man”–have been available electronically, and all of the books are exclusive to the Kindle Store for two years. Starting today, customers can download these books for $9.99 from the Kindle Store and read them everywhere–on their Kindle, Kindle DX, iPhone, iPod touch, BlackBerry, PC, Mac, iPad and Android devices.

“Our goal with Kindle is to make every book, ever published, in print or out of print, available in less than 60 seconds,” said Russ Grandinetti, Vice President of Kindle Content. “Having these prominent and important books available through The Wylie Agency’s Odyssey Editions is another great step toward this goal. We’re excited to let our customers read books like ‘Rabbit Run’ for the first time ever electronically.”

“As the market for e-books grows, it will be important for readers to have access in e-book format to the best contemporary literature the world has to offer,” said Andrew Wylie, President of Odyssey Editions. “This publishing program is designed to address that need, and to help e-book readers build a digital library of classic contemporary literature.”

The Wylie Agency operates internationally from offices in New York and London. In business for more than 30 years, it has built a reputation for consistently high standards. The writers and estates it represents include many of the greatest names in 20th and 21st century literature. Odyssey Editions is the first digitally native literary imprint launch of its kind.

Books available in the Kindle Store through Odyssey Editions include modern classics such as Hunter S. Thompson’s “Fear and Loathing in Las Vegas,” Salman Rushdie’s “Midnight’s Children,” Oliver Sacks’ “The Man Who Mistook His Wife for a Hat,” Vladimir Nabokov’s “Lolita,” John Cheever’s “The Stories of John Cheever” and four novels from John Updike’s Rabbit series.

The 20 e-books published by Odyssey Editions carry an elegant and unified new look designed in collaboration with Enhanced Editions (http://www.enhanced-editions.com/). Features include:

• Newly-designed jackets
• Interior typography adhering to best conventions of book design and reading on Kindle
• Colophon, book covers and series design optimized for the Kindle screen

The 20 books being published by Odyssey Editions and made available exclusively on Kindle are:

• “London Fields” by Martin Amis
• “The Adventures of Augie March” by Saul Bellow
• “Ficciones” (Spanish Edition) by Jorge Luis Borges
• “Junky” by William Burroughs
• “The Stories of John Cheever” by John Cheever
• “Invisible Man” by Ralph Ellison
• “Love Medicine” by Louise Erdrich
• “The Naked and the Dead” by Norman Mailer
• “Lolita” by Vladimir Nabokov
• “The Enigma of Arrival” by V.S. Naipaul
• “The White Castle” by Orhan Pamuk
• “Portnoy’s Complaint” by Philip Roth
• “Midnight’s Children” by Salman Rushdie
• “The Man Who Mistook His Wife for a Hat” by Oliver Sacks
• “Fear and Loathing in Las Vegas” by Hunter S. Thompson
• “Rabbit Run” by John Updike
• “Rabbit Redux” by John Updike
• “Rabbit is Rich” by John Updike
• “Rabbit at Rest” by John Updike
• “Brideshead Revisited” by Evelyn Waugh

The Kindle editions of these books are now available for sale exclusively in the Kindle Store (www.amazon.com/kindlestore). Kindle offers the largest selection of the most popular books people want to read. The U.S. Kindle Store now has more than 630,000 books, including New Releases and 106 of 110 New York TimesBestsellers. Over 510,000 of these books are $9.99 or less, including 75 New York Times Bestsellers. Over 1.8 million free, out-of-copyright, pre-1923 books are also available to read on Kindle.

For more information about these books, visit www.amazon.com/odyssey or http://www.odysseyeditions.com/. Eleven of these books will be available globally. Kindle is in stock and available for immediate shipment today at www.amazon.com/kindle.

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