Jonathan Galassi, president of Farrar, Straus & Giroux, has an Op Ed piece in the New York Times today arguing that publishers give a huge amount of value-added to books and that ebooks are taking advantage of this. He concludes that ebooks are simply the latest editions of books already produced by publishers, and not a fresh version of the author’s work. He takes as an example the recent issuing of William Styron’s work in electronic form by Open Road Integrated Media, when the original books were issued by Random House.
He posits that the editors, publicity department, copy editors, designers rights department, etc. of Random House all contributed to Styron’s success:
The author’s heirs hold the copyright to his work. But should another company be able to issue e-book versions of Random House’s editions without its involvement? An e-book version of Mr. Styron’s “The Confessions of Nat Turner” will contain more than the author’s original words. It will also comprise Mr. Loomis’s editing, as well as all the labor of copy editing, designing and producing, not to mention marketing and sales, that went into making it a desirable candidate for e-book distribution. Mr. Styron’s books took the form they have, are what they are today, not only because of his remarkable genius but also, as he himself acknowledged, because of the dedicated work of those at Random House.