Two interesting ebook questions: when will publishers get around to releasing the backlist as ebooks, and who will be the quality gatekeepers in a world of self-publishing? You may think the second question is a moot point, and can be answered by some form of collective criticism, aka Metafilter, but I’m going to throw out some relevant news anyhow.
As I understand it, part of the problem with the first question is that publishers don’t own the ebook rights to their backlist. It wasn’t part of the standard contract back in the dark ages of the 1980s and 1990s and 2000s. This means authors can do it themselves, if they like. Please take a moment to read this post from John Scalzi before continuing.
This summer, literary agent Andrew Wylie realized that he had a bunch of clients who had great backlists which could be profitably released as ebooks without the added cost of involving a publisher. We’re talking people like John Updike, who do not need as much marketing for their backlist as others. So he tried that. Alas, it did not work out entirely well.
However, the (primarily) SF&F agency JABberwocky recently did the same thing. So that’s kind of interesting.