A month ago, I reported that literary super-agent Andrew Wylie was about to bypass publishers entirely by becoming an e-book publisher, and that his new e-book publishing concern would be selling their clients' books exclusively through the Kindle. (A few of Wylie's clients include Updike, Bellow and Rushdie.) Random House, the big dog publisher who publishes most of the print editions of those books, was said to be displeased, threatening to never work with Wylie again.

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Late yesterday, Random House and Wylie announced that they've reached an agreement, as Sarah Weinman reports:

In a joint statement issued Tuesday afternoon, the Wylie Agency and Markus Dohle, CEO of Bertelsmann-owned Random House, jointly announced they had "resolved their differences" over who had the right to publish 13 of the 20 backlist titles originally available through Wylie's Odyssey Editions. "We have agreed that Random House shall be the exclusive e-book publisher of these titles for those territories in which Random House U.S. controls their rights," they said.

This means that the books will no longer be sold exclusively through Amazon. Meanwhile, an anonymous Random House source told Publishers Weekly that Random House is making a much sweeter e-book royalty deal for authors:

The source said Random is offering a royalty, on digital editions of backlist titles, built around a sliding schedule that can approach 40% "rather quickly." The source explained that the royalty is based on a certain number of books selling over a specified period of time and, depending on what's negotiated, the rate will rise per the rate of sale.

The presumption is that Random House's improved offer on backlist digital royalties—the source said this new approach is a "good rate" and notably better than the standard 25%—will spark the other major houses to follow suit with similar offers.

It's good to finally see a publisher step up and admit that a huge part of their financial business involves moving wood pulp from place to place. A higher e-book royalty for authors means that the authors will likely do more promotion of their backlists, which means that the publishers will see more sales across the board. This, finally, is a smart e-book decision from a major publisher.

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