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 Issue #98

Free Writers' Newsletter

May 29, 2011  

   

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Literary agents move into publishing

Literary agent Ed Victor has announced a move into publishing with the launch of Bedford Square Books. The new publishing house will concentrate initially on publishing out of print books or those on which the rights have reverted, releasing them as eBooks and POD (print on demand) titles. 

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While the focus of the venture is clearly on the back catalogue of existing clients, Ed Victor didn't rule out the possibility of releasing original work by new writers, for instance if they were passionate about a work but had failed to sell it to a publisher. He remained clear, however, that given a choice between an established publisher and Bedford Square Books the established publisher should remain the preferred choice.

In response to this announcement other major literary agencies, including Curtis Brown and Blake Friedman, have announced similar plans, with Curtis Brown announcing an intention to follow suit with a much larger list of titles than the six planned in Ed Victor's first wave. 

How this sits with the rules of the Association of Authors' Agents (of which all three agencies are members) remains to be seen: a clause of its convention specifically prohibits member agents from acting as publishers, in order to avoid any conflict of interests. Anthony Goff, the Association's President, has acknowledged that the distinctions between authors, publishers, and agents are becoming less distinct in the modern age, but insists that the principle of avoiding a conflict of interest between agent and author needs to be maintained: "The point of the provision in the AAA's Code of Practice is to safeguard the principle and that's what matters, even if the distinctions between author, publisher and agent are being blurred." 

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Amazon to set up book publisher in New York?

Speculation is rife that internet retailer Amazon is set to launch a book publishing operation in New York City.

Amazon, which made its name as an online book retailer, has already made some forays into publishing, most recently with the the launch of the Montlake Romance imprint earlier this month. However, the recent appointment of literary agent and former CEO of the Time-Warner Book Group, Larry Kirshbaum, has fuelled speculation that the Seattle based company is about to make a much more serious tilt at the publishing industry. Observers also note that the company is currently hiring acquisition editors, publicists, and marketing staff.

Given Amazon's position as the second largest bookseller in the world, and the largest seller of e-readers (their Kindle machine controls 29% of the market) the repercussions for the book industry could be as significant as those caused by the original introduction of the Kindle. The exact impact that the move will have is as yet unclear, but one thing is for certain: with agencies and now retailers / manufacturers encroaching on their territory, this is an anxious time for the traditional publishing establishment.

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Literary agent Scott Moyers returns to Penguin Press

Scott Moyers, a former executive editor of Penguin Press, is returning to his old publishing house as publisher.

Moyers left Penguin Press in 2007 when he joined the Wylie Agency as a literary agent. What at the time seemed to be a trend of publishers becoming literary agents now seems to be part of the reverse, as both Moyers and Larry Krishbaum return to publishing from their roles as literary agents (see pervious article, above).

For the details of these and over 850 other literary agencies, click here.

 

 

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