Screen-shot-2010-01-31-at-4.41.27-PM[1] If you needed proof that the earthquake of Andrew Wylie’s Amazon publishing deal continues to send aftershocks through the publishing industry, you need look no further than this post by “Agent Kristin” on her blog “Pub Rants”:

Several agent friends have confirmed that Macmillan sent a letter over the weekend asking authors to sign amendments that gave them electronic rights to backlist titles.

Kristin points out that these letters went directly to the authors in question—not the agents or agencies that represent them—and reminds authors not to sign them without checking with their agents or attorneys.

The Authors Guild has spoken up a couple of times about this kind of behavior coming from Random House, but this seems to be the first sign that Macmillan is moving to take the same position. Of course, Macmillan’s CEO did say he was “appalled” by the Wylie deal, so it’s not exactly a surprise in that light.

Even though Wylie’s actions brought new attention to it, the issue of e-rights to backlist titles (books published before e-book rights started hitting standard publishing contracts in the early to mid nineties) pre-dates this blog’s earliest post by several years—it first surfaced back in the Palm PDA reading days when an outfit called RosettaBooks got together with some authors to publish e-books of such titles.

Random House objected, but dropped its lawsuit after a summary judgment against it indicated that if they took it to full trial they would probably lose on the merits. That hasn’t stopped them (and other publishers) from making the same angry noises after Wylie’s recent move, however. Of course, Random House has not filed another lawsuit yet, so perhaps noise is all it will end up being?

(Found via BookSquare.)


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