How much longer will it be before literary agents are all opening up their own publishing houses?
Andrew Lownie has joined the parade.
That bit of news may explain why Random House released a short video in which several of its U.K.-based authors tout the benefits of publishing with Random House.
The fight, apparently, is on.
Mr. Lownie believes that his authors are not getting the full financial benefits of digital publishing, so he has created Thistle to level the field. Not only will the new imprint handle e-book publishing, but it will also create print-on-demand editions of hard copy books.
He plans to use Amazon's platform, which is fairly easy to use and absolutely free.
Given that Amazon sells the most books, it seems like a good fit, as long as the author is not concerned with the hard feelings that this price-controlling powerhouse has generated among brick and mortar book shop owners, to say nothing of Barnes & Noble.
Will Thistle help or hurt Mr. Lownie's credibility with the traditional publishers?
He's holding the option of e-publishing with his own imprint when he heads into negotiations. The editors would know they have to come up with big money, or lose the digital rights. Or, they can simply not offer to publish something Andrew Lownie is selling.
In Mr. Lownie's view, what he will do with Thistle is offer an opening for authors whose books fill some small niche that is not profitable enough for the big houses. With costs at a minimum, he will not need to sell a large number of copies to turn a profit.
The old conflict of interest bogeyman raises its head once again, with the concern that an agent would not push as hard for a publishing contract when he could do better as the publisher himself.
What remains to be seen is, will this new form of competition in publishing lead to better contracts for the authors, or even fewer authors getting an opportunity because the cost of risk would become too great?
The party is only just getting started.
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