July 2010

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Amazon.com announced on July 22 that The Wylie Agency is publishing 20 books “from some of literature’s most influential authors through its new Odyssey Editions imprint and making them available for sale exclusively in the Kindle Store.”  As the press release notes, this is the first time that any of the titles have been available electronically, and the books will be exclusive to the Kindle Store for two years. Beginning on July 22, customers could download the books for $9.99 from the Kindle store and read them on their Kindle, Kindle DX, iPhone, iPod touch, BlackBerry, PC, Mac, iPad, and Android devices.

The four Updike titles chosen are probably no surprise to readers and scholars:  Rabbit Run, Rabbit Redux, Rabbit Is Rich, and Rabbit at Rest.

The other titles available are London Fields (Martin Amis), The Adventures of Augie March (Saul Bellow),  Junky (William Burroughs), The Stories of John Cheever, Love Medicine (Louise Erdrich), The Naked and the Dead (Norman Mailer), Lolita (Vladimir Nabokov), The Enigma of Arrival (V.S. Naipaul), The White Castle (Orhan Parmuk), Portnoy’s Complaint (Philip Roth), Midnight’s Children (Salman Rushdie), The Man Who Mistook His Wife for a Hat (Oliver Sacks), Fear and Loathing in Las Vegas (Hunter S. Thompson), and Brideshead Revisited (Evelyn Waugh). The 20 e-books published by Odyssey Editions carry “an elegant and unified new look designed in collaboration with Enhanced Editions.” Features include: Newly designed jackets and interior typography adhering to the best conventions of book design and reading on Kindle, with Colophon, book covers and series design optimized for the Kindle screen.

“Our goal with Kindle is to make every book ever published, in print or out of print, available in less than 60 seconds,” said Russ Grandinetti, Vice President of Kindle Content. “Having these prominent and important books available through The Wylie Agency’s Odyssey Editions is another great step toward this goal. We’re excited to let our customers read books like Rabbit Run for the first time ever electronically.”

The Wylie Agency operates internationally from offices in New York and London, and they represent a number of literary estates, among them John Updike’s. Odyssey Editions is the first digitally native literary imprint launch of its kind. “As the market for e-books grows, it will be important for readers to have access in e-book format to the best contemporary literature the world has to offer,” said Andrew Wylie, President of Odyssey Editions. “This publishing program is designed to address that need, and to help e-book readers build a digital library of classic contemporary literature.”

Not everyone is tickled about the new development. Four days after the Odyssey Editions went on sale, An American Editor delivered a scathing attack against Wylie and Agency 5 in an opinion piece titled “The Screw You eBook Deal.”

As of Tuesday, July 6, The Witches of Eastwick, the 1987 film adaptation starring Jack Nicholson, Cher, Susan Sarandon, and Michelle Pfeiffer, is available on Blu-ray. Warner Brothers released it as the “B” movie on a Comedy Double Feature that also includes Practical Magic, a 1998 film starring Sandra Bullock and Nicole Kidman as sisters hexed by a centuries-old curse . . . and zombies.

The Witches of Eastwick comes off best, wittier, funnier, and it alone is worth the price of the disc,” writes John J. Puccio of DVDTown.com. “The Witches of Eastwick is at its best whenever Nicholson or [Veronica] Cartwright are on the screen,” Puccio writes, though Updike went on record as saying that he thought Pfeiffer was the best. “Maybe it’s not as subtle or elegant as Updike’s book, but it should keep most audiences occupied with its exuberant, supernatural battle of the sexes,” Puccio adds.