Despite the disparaging of e-books as cold, hard, unfriendly sources of reading, traditional publishers apparently think there’s money to be made through publishing in “electronic book publishing formats.” The authors may be long-dead, but their publishers are in a tussle with their estates over who owns whose rights. In the case of William Styron’s books, Random House expects to “continue to publish the Styron books we own in all formats, including e-books.” (Click here for the full story.) Hmmm … the Styron books they own? OK, I understand that traditional publishers invest capital and even some sweat equity in an author’s work, but just who wrote Styron’s books? Could they maybe express it differently … say, they expect to publish to the books that they bought rights to? I know I probably sound like I’m splitting hairs, but wouldn’t any author wince to hear a publisher say that he “owns” the author’s books?
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