French publishers in revolt over Andrew Wylie's rights grab

French publishers in revolt over Andrew Wylie's rights grab

<p>Agent Andrew Wylie has moved to reassure French publishers over electronic rights after a number ceased trading with his agency following the agent&#39;s decision to set up as a digital publisher earlier this year. One, Antoine Gallimard (<em>pictured</em>), described Wylie&#39;s move as &quot;unacceptable&quot;. Gallimard is one of 50 signatories to an open letter published in today&#39;s <em>Bookseller Daily</em> that warns agents against splitting digital and print rights. A number will meet Wylie in Frankfurt to discuss the row.<br /> </p><p>The letter, from the French Publishers Association (Syndicat National de l&#39;&Eacute;dition), was written as a response to &quot;the actions of certain agents who seek to position themselves as direct competitors to the publishers of their own author/clients&quot;&mdash;a thinly disguised reference to Wylie. Wylie made good on a threat to &#39;do digital&#39;, when he launched Odyssey Editions in July with a deal with Amazon to sell 20 titles exclusively on the Kindle&mdash;he later removed 13 titles under pressure from Random House.<br /><br />The SNE letter explicitly warns against putting digital rights in the control of &quot;outside parties&quot;, including &quot;agents&quot;, who it said were &quot;liable to endanger the equilibrium within the profession&quot;. The &quot;commercialisation&quot; of electronic rights was &quot;the natural responsibility of the publisher&quot;, the letter states.<br /><br />Signatories include Gallimard, president of the French Publishers Association (Syndicat national de l&sbquo;&eacute;dition, SNE) and chief executive of Editions Gallimard, Flammarion chief executive Teresa Cremisi, Albin Michel c.e.o. Francis Esmenard, Editis c.e.o. Alain Kouck, La Martini&egrave;re c.e.o. Herv&eacute; de la Martini&egrave;re, M&eacute;dia Participations c.e.o. Vincent Montagne, Hachette Livre c.e.o Arnaud Nourry and Actes Sud c.e.o. Fran&ccedil;oise Nyssen.<br /><br /><em>The Bookseller Daily</em> understands that at least four French publishers have suspended negotiations with Wylie since July. Gallimard told <em>The Bookseller</em>: &quot;We are one of them, and I know several of my colleagues have done the same.&quot; Gallimard said e-books did not have a sufficient presence to justify separating digital from print rights. And he added: &quot;We were shocked that Wylie gave exclusivity to Amazon and consider that it is a conflict of interest for agents to create companies that compete with their customers . . . this is totally unacceptable.&quot; According to sources, Gallimard represents about 50% of Wylie&#39;s rights business in the country.<br /><br />Wylie is due to meet with a number of French publishers in Frankfurt in order to discuss the crisis, and has made assurances that in France digital rights will not be separated. Robert Laffont chief executive of Leonello Bandolini told <em>The Bookseller Daily</em> that he was due to meet Wylie at the end of Tuesday to discuss digital rights.<br /><br />Olivier Cohen, chief executive of Editions L&#39;Olivier, said &quot;a limit had been reached over the question of electronic rights, and that it was time to take a stand&quot;. Cohen stressed that the letter was not intended as an attack against literary agents, even though he acknowledged that some French publishers were agent-phobic. The aim was just &quot;to remind them of the fundamental principle that electronic rights should remain in the hands of publishers, whether for backlists or new titles&quot;.<br /><br />Cohen said he expected some international publishers to sign the letter at the Frankfurt Book Fair, but stressed that the timing was coincidental. &quot;Publishing is an individualistic profession,&quot; he said. &quot;It is very difficult to achieve a consensus, but there are times when it is vital to close ranks and adopt a common position.&quot;<br /><br />No-one from the Wylie Agency was available to comment when contacted by<em> The Bookseller</em>.</p><p>&nbsp;</p><p><strong>Open letter from French publishers regarding electronic rights</strong><br /><br />Paris, 28th September 2010<br /><br />In response to the actions of certain agents who seek to position themselves as direct competitors to the publishers of their own author/clients, the Syndicat National de l&rsquo;&Eacute;dition (SNE) and the below listed signatories wish to clearly and decisively state the position of the French industry:<br /><br />&bull; Electronic rights are rights on the same basis as printed book rights, whose commercialisation is the natural responsibility of the publisher; electronic publishing includes the &ldquo;added value&rdquo; of the editorial work performed on the printed book.<br /><br />&bull; The acquisition of rights to a creative work should not exclude the digital rights, the risk being the development of an independent digital market, controlled by outside parties (content aggregators, agents etc.) liable to endanger the equilibrium within the profession.<br /><br />&bull; Publishers should have the same control over the retail price of their electronic books as they currently have over the printed format.<br /><br /><br />The signatories<br /><br /><br />1. Antoine Gallimard Gallimard, SNE president<br />2. Teresa Cremisi Flammarion<br />3. Nathalie Jouven Hachette-Livre<br />4. Liana L&eacute;vi Editions Liana L&eacute;vi<br />5. Ir&egrave;ne Lindon Editions de Minuit<br />6. Sylvie Marc&eacute; Belin<br />7. Fran&ccedil;oise Nyssen Actes Sud<br />8. Jean Delas Ecole des Loisirs<br />9. Pierre Dutilleul Editis<br />10. Francis Esm&eacute;nard Albin Michel<br />11. Alain Kouck Editis<br />12. Vincent Montagne M&eacute;dia Participations<br />13. Arnaud Nourry Hachette-Livre<br />14. Olivier B&eacute;tourn&eacute; Seuil<br />15. Paul Otchakovsky-Laurens Editions P.O.L<br />16. Olivier Nora Grasset/Fayard<br />17. Marion Mazauric Au Diable Vauvert<br />18. Olivier Cohen Editions de l&rsquo;Olivier<br />19. Fran&ccedil;ois Renault Editions de l&rsquo;Officine<br />20. Alice D&eacute;on Editions de la Table Ronde<br />21. Fran&ccedil;ois G&egrave;ze Editions la D&eacute;couverte<br />22. Philippe Picquier Editions Philippe Picquier<br />23. Laurence Tacou Editions L&rsquo;herne<br />24. Gilles Haeri Flammarion<br />25. Dominique Bourgois Editions Christian Bourgois<br />26. C&eacute;cile Boyer-Runge Livre de Poche<br />27. Isabelle Gallimard Mercure de France<br />28. V&eacute;ra Michalski Groupe Libella<br />29. Jean Picollec Jean Picollec Editeur<br />30. Nina Salter Editions Les deux terres<br />31. Isabelle Laffont Editions Jean-Claude Latt&egrave;s<br />32. Alain Bergdoll Hatier<br />33. Alain Gr&uuml;nd BIEF <br />34. Anne-Marie M&eacute;taili&eacute; Editions M&eacute;taili&eacute;<br />35. Sophie Bancquart Editions Le Pommier<br />36. Renaud Lefebvre Dalloz<br />37. Olivier Rubinstein Deno&euml;l<br />38. Jean-Manuel Bourgois<br />39. Henri-Louis Roche Nouvelle Cit&eacute;<br />40. Michel Prigent PUF<br />41. Pascale Lethorel ENSBA<br />42. Abel Gerschenfeld <br />43. Denis Mollat Mollat<br />44. Herv&eacute; de la Martini&egrave;re La Martini&egrave;re Groupe<br />45. Jean Daniel Belfond Editions de l&rsquo;Archipel<br />46. Emmanuelle Collas Editions Galaade<br />47. Jean Castar&egrave;de France Empire<br />48. Bernard Barrault Robert Laffont<br />49. Sabine Wespieser Sabine Wespieser Editeur<br />50. Anne Carri&egrave;re Editions Anne Carri&egrave;re<br /><br /> </p>