Will Publishing Houses Be Kindle’s First Casualty?

Eliminate the middle-man. This classic piece of business advice recently received an unusual interpretation: the literary agent, commonly seen as the middle-man between author and publishing house, is circumventing the publishing house!

The Guardian has reported on star literary agent Andrew Wylie’s move to sell the electronic form of twenty very popular titles, ranging from Nabokov’s Lolita to Rushdie’s Midnight’s Children to Thompson’s Fear and Loathing in Las Vegas, exclusively on Amazon’s Kindle.

Random House will continue to print and sell the books’ paper editions, but has refused to make any new contracts with Wylie until the issue of electronic copyright is resolved. Random House claims that contracts made before the advent of digital publishing automatically extend to cover digital rights thus giving publishers control of digital works, not the literary agent or the book’s author.

This is contested by both agent and author who say publishing houses only have rights explicitly stated in contracts and that any undefined rights are retained by the author.

The American Authors Guild has little sympathy for publishers who typically grant about twenty-five percent of a book’s sales as royalties. According to The Guardian, under the agreement authors have reached with Wylie, and Wylie with Amazon, authors can expect to receive over half of their book’s sales in royalties.

Equally there is concern over the limited availability of the twenty selected books. There are emerging e-readers besides Amazon’s Kindle, but without lucrative titles to sell, competition may be thwarted by exclusive deals such as this.

Depending on how popular e-reading becomes, this could easily be the end of publishing houses, assuming agreements such as Wylie’s continue to be made.

Image courtesy Wikimedia Commons, user: KoS

How to vaccinate the world’s most vulnerable? Build global partnerships.

Pfizer's partnerships strengthen their ability to deliver vaccines in developing countries.

Susan Silbermann, Global President of Pfizer Vaccines, looks on as a health care worker administers a vaccine in Rwanda. Photo: Courtesy of Pfizer.
  • Community healthcare workers face many challenges in their work, including often traveling far distances to see their clients
  • Pfizer is helping to drive the UN's sustainable development goals through partnerships.
  • Pfizer partnered with AMP and the World Health Organization to develop a training program for healthcare workers.
Keep reading Show less

James Patterson on writing: Plotting, research, and first drafts

The best-selling author tells us his methods.

  • James Patterson has sold 300 million copies of his 130 books, making him one of the most successful authors alive today.
  • He talks about how some writers can overdo it by adding too much research, or worse, straying from their outline for too long.
  • James' latest book, The President is Missing, co-written with former President Bill Clinton, is out now.
Keep reading Show less

How to split the USA into two countries: Red and Blue

Progressive America would be half as big, but twice as populated as its conservative twin.

Image: Dicken Schrader
Strange Maps
  • America's two political tribes have consolidated into 'red' and 'blue' nations, with seemingly irreconcilable differences.
  • Perhaps the best way to stop the infighting is to go for a divorce and give the two nations a country each
  • Based on the UN's partition plan for Israel/Palestine, this proposal provides territorial contiguity and sea access to both 'red' and 'blue' America
Keep reading Show less

Why the White House Correspondents’ Association dinner won’t feature a comedian in 2019

It's the first time the association hasn't hired a comedian in 16 years.

(Photo by Anna Webber/Getty Images for Vulture Festival)
Culture & Religion
  • The 2018 WHCA ended in controversy after comedian Michelle Wolf made jokes some considered to be offensive.
  • The WHCA apologized for Wolf's jokes, though some journalists and many comedians backed the comedian and decried arguments in favor of limiting the types of speech permitted at the event.
  • Ron Chernow, who penned a bestselling biography of Alexander Hamilton, will speak at next year's dinner.
Keep reading Show less