Just in time for the Frankfurt Book Fair, literary agent Andrew Wylie is making publishers in France angry with him. This summer the agent shocked the publishing world by announcing an exclusive partnership with Amazon called Odyssey Editions, in which he is publishing the digital versions of some of his esteemed clients’ backlist titles. Authors in the deal included Philip Roth, Ralph Ellison and Norman Mailer.
After battling with American publishers, now the French Publishers Association is on guard. In an open letter published this week in The Bookseller, the French Publishers Association warns agents about splitting up digital and print rights. It reads: “the actions of certain agents who seek to position themselves as direct competitors to the publishers of their own author/clients.”
The Bookseller has more: “The Bookseller Daily understands that at least four French publishers have suspended negotiations with Wylie since July. Gallimard told The Bookseller: ‘We are one of them, and I know several of my colleagues have done the same.’ [Antoine] Gallimard said e-books did not have a sufficient presence to justify separating digital from print rights. And he added: ‘We were shocked that Wylie gave exclusivity to Amazon and consider that it is a conflict of interest for agents to create companies that compete with their customers . . . this is totally unacceptable.’ According to sources, Gallimard represents about 50% of Wylie’s rights business in the country.”
Wylie went on vacation after this announcement in the U.S., but this week the agent is reportedly attending the Frankfurt Book Fair and will likely have to address these concerns.