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Amazon Loses E-Book Deal

Published on August 25, 2010
by Jeffrey A. Trachtenberg

A month after jolting the book industry with a deal to give Amazon.com Inc. exclusive digital access to some of the country’s best-known literary works, literary agent Andrew Wylie is largely abandoning the agreement.

The Amazon (AMZN) deal was struck after Mr. Wylie failed to agree to terms with publishers for electronic rights to his authors’ existing titles. It was a notable step in the battle between Amazon and its two main rivals in e-books, Apple Inc. (AAPL) and Barnes & Noble Inc. (BKS)

But Bertelsmann AG’s Random House, which published 13 of the 20 titles at issue, had disputed Amazon’s right to sell the titles in digital form. It boycotted new offerings by all of Mr. Wylie’s clients, putting some of the New York agent’s famous authors, including V.S. Naipaul and Dave Eggers, at a disadvantage.

Random House will now distribute the electronic versions of the works to all retailers after Mr. Wylie reached a truce with the publisher and agreed to terms for the titles.

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