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Random House rethinks e-book deal

The Kindle is Amazon.com’s electronic reader. The Kindle is Amazon.com’s electronic reader. (Reuters)
Associated Press / August 25, 2010

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NEW YORK — An exclusive e-book deal between Amazon.com and the agent for such Random House classics as “Invisible Man’’ and “Lolita’’ is no longer exclusive, and no longer a deal.

Random House Inc. and the Wylie Agency said yesterday that “Invisible Man,’’ “Rabbit Is Rich,’’ and several other works were being “removed’’ from a program brokered between Wylie and Amazon that offered them as e-books available only through the online retailer.

Instead, Random House, which had claimed electronic rights, will publish the books on a “nonexclusive basis,’’ meaning that consumers can buy them through Amazon, Barnes & Noble.com, and other sellers of digital books.

The original deal had enraged publishers, who have fought for control of older works, and rival sellers and led to Random House’s suspending new business with Wylie.

Yesterday’s joint statement said that Random House was resuming normal relations with Wylie “for English-language manuscript submissions and potential acquisitions, and we both are glad to be able to put this matter behind us.’’

E-editions of works represented by Wylie, but first released by publishers other than Random House, including Norman Mailer’s “The Naked and the Dead’’ and William Burroughs’s “Junky,’’ are still being sold exclusively through Amazon and released by Odyssey Editions, an e-publisher launched last month by Wylie.

An Amazon spokesman declined to comment. Telephone and e-mail requests for additional comment from Wylie were not immediately returned.