Trident Media Group will become the latest literary agency to directly distribute e-books from its authors, announcing plans to launch Trident E-Book Operations, a full service e-book publishing program that will distribute Trident author e-books directly to both domestic and international e-book retailers.
Trident chairman Robert Gottlieb will oversee the e-book operations and said the new e-book venture is an effort to give authors more “flexibility” in managing potential domestic and foreign digital revenue streams. “We will continue to manage all facets of our clients' businesses by the extension of our services into the ever-changing e-book publishing business around the world. Trident Media Group will devise strategies to maximize value for its authors in the new and complex e-book publishing field,” Gottlieb said in a prepared statement.
In addition to Gottlieb, Trident E-Book Operations will be directed by CEO Dan Strone, executive v-p John Silbersack and business advisor Lew Korman. In addition, Lyuba DiFalco and Nicole Robson have been named to the new positions of co-directors, E-Book Operations.
In a phone interiew, Gottlieb said the launch of Trident E-Book Operations, “has already begun,” but he declined to provide specifics about a time-frame for initial releases, which authors will be involved or how many and which online retail outlets will be selling Trident e-books. “We’re communicating with our clients now and we’re organizing a rollout of the works that will be included in the program. It’s an ongoing process,” Gottlieb said.
Gottlieb said that there will be more announcements about retail partners and titles. “We’re not going to give out information that our competitors can use against us. There will be more announcements to come,” Gottlieb said.
Gottlieb claims that unlike the e-book ventures of other literary agencies, Trident E-Book Operations is different, “we will have a dedicated e-book department.” Asked if Trident E-Book Operations will give its authors a better e-book royalty than traditional publishers offer, Gottlieb said, “we will offer better terms but also a much better e-book publishing experience on a global basis. We’re using the girth of our company to negotiate deals that our authors would never be able to get on their own.”
Although specific names have not yet been provided, the new service is said to feature the release of e-book editions of works by Trident's extensive list of well-known authors. Besides providing basic production services like digital conversion, e-book design, marketing and social media promotions, the new Trident E-Book Operations will distribute out-of-print backlist titles, frontlist and original titles as well as short-form nonfiction and fiction.
The service will offer all the standard digital formats including enhanced e-books as well as print-on-demand and, according to the release, will seek, “new business relationships with traditional and non-traditional publishers.” Trident will “strategize” with its authors about pricing, foreign sales and translations and will continue to manage sales data and royalty payments for all the digital editions.
Yet despite ramping up what it is calling a comprehensive e-book publishing program for its client-authors, Gottlieb also said that this doesn’t mean that TMG has become a publisher. “Trident will not become a publisher,” Gottlieb said, “but will instead continue in its new e-book operations to have itself aligned with its clients whose interests we serve as an agent and manager."
Gottlieb said he “expects no problems with publishers” over the launch of Trident E-Book Operations, although he said that publishers were just learning about the venture with today’s release. Pressed to define how Trident’s e-book operation is different what’s offered by traditional publishers, Gottlieb said, “we’re not out signing contracts with Kobo and Google eBooks," even while also saying that they are negotiating with retailers. Gottlieb said that getting involved in e-book publishing should not be considered unusual for his agency: “historically we have always worked with our clients and their publishers on marketing, jacket design and in other areas with traditional publishers and we’re just bringing this approach to other channels.”
“We’re not acting as publisher,” Gottlieb said, “but there’s a limit to how much any publisher can release, so agents have to be able to create new opportunities. This is not a battle between us and the publishers; we’re in a complex business matrix in which we can all work together to succeed.“