eReader & iPad News – 7/25/2010   1 comment

The announcement last week by the Wylie Agency of its Odyssey Editions and the exclusive distribution of content through the Kindle Store may have made Kindlers happy, but the move has resulted in a firestorm of protest from other publishers.

The main points of contention are that:

  • Competition: Wylie will now be competing with other publishers.
  • Possible conflict of interest: Wylie is a literary agent; being a publisher at the same time could result in conflicts of interest.
  • Content is restricted to the Kindle Store rather than being device agnostic.  This is less of an issue for readers now that the Kindle reading applications are available on many platforms, but it is of course an issue for Amazon’s competitors.
  • Disputes over ebook rights: Older contracts between authors and publishers (such as those governing the titles released by Odyssey Editions) were made before ebooks were around.  The authors of the Odyssey ebooks had pbook contracts with other publishers.  Whether or not these older contracts also apply to ebooks is still unsettled and is probably the major reason we don’t have more backlist and out-of-print books published digitally.

Random House, which usually seems to have a relatively progressive approach to ebooks, questioned Amazon’s legal right to sell the Odyssey titles.  Random House also says that as Wylie is now a publisher and therefore a competitor they will not conduct any new English-language business with Wylie on a worldwide basis.

There is a possibility that the Odyssey Editions may end up being pulled from the Kindle Store.  As an avid reader, and since ebooks are my delivery method of choice, I want to see all of the backlists and out-of-print and hard-to-find titles available for me to buy and read.  At the very least, Wylie has put the issue of ebook rights of these older books on the front burner.  Most publishers do not seem to be much interested in doing this, even though digitizing their backlists and out-of-print books would be a way for publishers to monetize these titles and better serve their customers.

For further reading see: the Guardian – here and here, John Sargent at the Macmillan Blog and Konrath at A Newbie’s Guide to Publishing.

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Arrow Publications, LLC, which is the publisher of, has announced that their romance graphic novels will soon be available through LongBox, Inc.

LongBox will provide comics and graphic novels to readers on computers, ereaders, gaming systems and other handheld devices via its forthcoming LongBox Digital ereading application.  Currently LongBox appears to still be in beta, but should be open for business soon.

Graphic novels from Arrow can currently be read on your computer and iDevices and are available from the above link and at iTunes.

* * *

The iPad continues its takeover of the educational market.  XanEdu, which claims to be the leading faculty-preferred provider of CoursePacks and custom textbooks, has launched an iPad publishing application.

Instructors will use the XanEdu CoursePack Management System to publish materials that students will then be able to access on an iPad. This capability is in addition to being fully integrated into popular learning management systems on campus.  XanEdu’s iPad platform also enables students to take and share notes for a more collaborative, engaging learning experience.

“XanEdu, as the largest independent provider of Harvard Business Publishing material is a trusted partner and consistent innovator,” said Maureen Bestes, VP of Higher Education of Harvard Business Publishing.  “In the fall, we’re launching interactive spreadsheets for financials cases with XanEdu.

XanEdu publishes over 15,000 titles annually at over 2,000 institutions and is the largest provider of custom coursepacks in North America.


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