After winning a high-profile legal battle over digital publisher Open Road in 2014, HarperCollins is publishing an e-book edition of Jean Craighead George’s 1973 Newbery Medal-winning children's book Julie of the Wolves.
The announcement comes nearly two years after a federal judge ruled for HarperCollins, finding that Open Road had infringed the publisher's copyright with an unauthorized e-book edition of the novel. The suit was filed by HarperCollins in December 2011, after Open Road struck a deal with George to release a digital edition. (Open Road struck the deal on the belief that the contract left the digital rights under the control of the author.) In March 2014, Judge Naomi Reice Buchwald held that two clauses in the author's 1971 contract with HarperCollins were "sufficiently broad to draw within its ambit e-book publication." George died in May 2012.
While ostensibly a copyright matter, the case was fundamentally about e-book royalties. In court filings, it was revealed that HarperCollins had initially offered to do an e-book edition with George, but had refused to budge from its standard 25% net e-book royalty, which George had deemed fundamentally unfair. (Open Road pays a standard 50% e-book royalty.)
An enduring classic, Julie of the Wolves has sold more than three million copies in print. It tells the story of a 13-year-old Eskimo girl who is befriended by a wolf pack after running away from home.
In addition to an e-book, HarperCollins officials said the new edition is also available in paperback, and contains bonus content, including an introduction written by George’s children, selections from the author’s field notebooks, and a discussion guide.