Today's New York Times reports that Stephen R. Covey, author of such megaselling business books as
The Seven Habits of Highly Successful People, will sell e-book versions of his backlist via e-book publisher Rosetta Books. (link: http://www.nytimes.com/2009/12/15/technology/companies/15amazon.html)
Sold via Amazon.com, the Rosetta move represents a small break for freedom away from Covey's longtime publisher, Simon & Schuster. And it also represents yet another example of the willingness of established writers to experiment with self-publishing: Both Stephen King and business author Jim Collins have, over the past years, tried similar gambits.
The battle over e-book rights has heated up in the past few days, with Random House asserting that it controlled e-book rights over such hoary backlist titles as William Styron's Darkness Visible. (link: http://www.nytimes.com/2009/12/13/business/media/13ebooks.html?scp=2&sq=%22William%20Styron%22&st=cse) Problem is, the publishing contracts governing many such backlist titles were signed long before anyone anticipated the existence of e-books--so the language governing publishers' rights is broad and vague. What's more, many traditional publishers have been slow off the mark to create e-book versions of older backlist titles.
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