You may have heard by now about author Stephen Covey's deal with Amazon, selling the exclusive electronic rights (via e-book publisher Rosetta Books and for a one-year period) to two of his titles, "The 7 Habits of Highly Effective People" and "Principle-Centered Leadership." You also may have heard (or been a voice among) the resounding, collective industry gasp.
The deal reportedly gives Covey 50 percent of the proceeds from the e-book's sale, compared to the 25 percent that many publishers offer, according to a Dec. 14 New York Times article. Another factor leading Covey to sign with Amazon, according to the article, was Amazon's intent to "heavily promote the e-book editions."
Covey's licensing deal brought behemoth questions to light in an industry currently venturing across completely unfamiliar terrain … at night … with what, at times, seems the equivalent of a match to guide its way.
Relationships Out the Window?
Besides some criticizing the business author's decision to prevent other retailers (including Borders, Barnes & Noble and Sony) from selling his e-books as bad business, bigger issues haunt the industry.
For starters, consumers should love this one: You can't buy the e-book at most e-tailers' sites where you can buy the print version. Nothing like further complicating an already-complicated digital landscape.
Also, obviously, Covey's longtime publisher (Simon & Schuster) was left out of the deal. Adam Rothberg, a spokesman for Simon & Schuster, told The NY Times, "Our position is that electronic editions of our backlist titles belong in the Simon & Schuster catalog, and we intend to protect our interests in those publications."
Covey's son commented that the Amazon deal did not reflect dissatisfaction with Simon & Schuster, but frankly, it's tough to see how the deal can be good for his relationship with the company.