England-based literary agency Ed Victor Ltd. has launched an e-book and print-on-demand publishing unit called Bedford Square Books. The imprint will feature a blend of backlist titles--both fiction and nonfiction--by the agency's clients, going live with six books in September. A rep from Ed Victor Ltd. said that the agency currently has distribution only in the UK, but is in talks with Open Road Media about selling its titles through the company in the U.S.

Bedford Square Books, which will house books like Edna O'Brien's Tales for the Telling and Sir Denis Forman's The Good Opera Guide, recalls agent Andrew Wylie's foray into publishing, Odyssey Editions. When Wylie launched Odyssey in July, with a list of backlist books by major authors like Saul Bellow and Vladimir Nabokov, Random House vehemently challenged the venture and ultimately saw to it that books it published, among them Naobokov's Lolita, be removed from Odyssey's list. (Although Random House removed its titles from Odyssey, the venture still sells a number of books originally published by other houses, including Oliver Sacks's The Man Who Mistook His Wife for a Hat and Evelyn Waugh's Brideshead Revisited.)

Unlike Odyssey, which struck an exclusive deal with Amazon to sell its titles through the Kindle Store, Bedford Square Books titles will be available through a number of online retailers including amazon.co.uk, iBooks and Waterstones.com. The POD titles from Bedford Square are also promised to each be "distinct," featuring covers by designer Caz Hildebrand. The Ed Vcitor rep also confirmed that the royalty structure on the Bedford Square titles will be a 50/50 split between author and the agency, once production costs are recouped.

Speaking to the venture, agency founder Ed Victor said: "My colleagues and I have for some time been of the opinion that a number of great backlist titles by our clients, currently out of print and reverted, should be available to the book buying public, either because they are as relevant as ever, or because they are classics in their field. We believe this is a valuable service not only for our authors, but also for readers." He added: "Although it is our intention to concentrate on out of print and reverted titles, we may publish original books if there is a compelling case to do so.”