Andrew Wylie. Foto: Eamonn McCabe
Andrew Wylie, el Chacal de los agentes literarios (?agente del Apocalipsis? para el autor de la nota), y sus catálogo envidiable de autores, empieza a tomar en serio el futuro de los libros y hace asociaciones con los eBooks y las diferentes plataformas. Una prueba más de lo que se viene sin descanso, para mi felicidad. En los próximos meses, este será el tema más debatido en congresos y mesas de café. A ver si todos los de la industrian cambian de actitud. Adiós nostalgias.
La nota esté un blog de The Guardian:
Grinning down from the saddle beside him in the first wave of horsemen is a fearsome collection of riders, including Philip Roth, Salman Rushdie, Martin Amis and John Updike. ?As the market for ebooks grows, it will be important for readers to have access in ebook format to the best contemporary literature the world has to offer,? the agent popularly known as ?the Jackal? said, cackling diabolically (I imagine). ?This publishing programme is designed to address that need, and to help ebook readers build a digital library of classic contemporary literature.?
This may be nothing but an Armageddon-style negotiating ploy, as Wylie delivers on a warning he gave publishers late last year when Random House claimed existing contracts already gave them control over authors? electronic rights. But if Wylie and his lawyers can make this a success ? and you only need to glance at his client list to imagine how ? then others are sure to follow. Random House, which publishes Roth, Rushdie and Amis in the UK, has written to Amazon already ?disputing their rights to legally sell these titles?. It declared Wylie a ?direct competitor? and ruled out ?entering into any new English-language business agreements with the Wylie Agency until this situation is resolved?.
It?s the latest battle in a multi-dimensional war over the future of literature as authors, agents and publishers face a horde of technology companies, retailers and libraries, not to mention the pirates, with constantly shifting alliances. As electronic reading devices ? the Kindles, the Readers, the iPads, your phone ? finally begin to take off, all the old certainties are in flux. Do authors need publishers to take on the might of the retailers, or are publishers part of the problem? Should writers keeptheir copyrights safely under lock and key, or will that rob them of the chance to take wing?
Once upon a time publishers were the only ones who could find authors, edit manuscripts, print books and distribute them, but new technology from desktop computers to the internet has thrown the doors wide open. As marketing departments have gained the ascendancy over editorial, agents have moved centre stage, filtering submissions and polishing manuscripts. With the messy business of ink and trees and Transit vans receding, Wylie?s latest move is simply the logical next step. None of this will worry those publishers who have made a business out of finding the voices others haven?t spotted, but in the week when Amazon claimed that ebook sales passed those of hardbacks the questions are unavoidable: who needs big publishers? Are the interests of writers and readers best served by big publishers, or the Jackal?