A good post arguing where publishers are going wrong when they claim ownership of digital rights of backlist titles, posted partly in response to the much discussed NYT op-ed
by Jonathan Galassi
And this is what Galassi misses. He correctly notes that a publisher (in this case, Random House) will, among other things, introduce an authorís work to magazines and newspapers for publicity and rights sales, but doesnít see the parallel universe that authors hope to participate in and e-books are ideally suited for. This is the online world, where not all of a publishersí connections are the cozy ones around a midtown Manhattan lunch table. In an essay about digital editions of Styronís work, there is not a single reference to Google or Twitter, though there is a plea that print will not die. An author or an estate may justly ask whether the publisher that worked so hard to bring a book into the world is the right entity to steward a book through cyberspace.
And so in the end Galassiís argument rests on the high holy ground of moral rights, whereas authors and their heirs occupy the low ground of economic interest. We should not be surprised to see such an argument in the opinion pages of the New York Times, which increasingly has only its moral authority to rely on.
Or Galassióand Random Houseócould change the story. Instead of talking about editorial prowess, the argument could be about online marketing, the building of an online community, the monetization opportunities of the authorís specially prepared Web site, the ability to monitor Web traffic and user activity through private administrative accounts, and the inventive management of the emerging online value chain. I hope Galassi is successful in winning the hearts of authors and their agents, but I would put more effort into appealing to their sense of themselves.