Open Road Integrated Media, the “digital content company” that Jane Friedman founded post-HarperCollins, has acquired the electronic rights to four titles from Pat Conroy’s backlist. The Prince of Tides, The Great Santini, The Lords of Discipline, and The Water Is Wide will be released in various e-book formats starting today.
Previously, the electronic editions had been available through RosettaBooks — but Conroy and his agent, Marly Rusoff, said that Friedman’s marketing and packaging prowess prompted them to change course after the contract expired. Open Road sent a film crew to Conroy’s South Carolina home, for example, and submitted the author to what he calls “hardest” and “most intimate” interview of his life.
Meanwhile, Houghton Mifflin Harcourt holds the books’ print rights:
“It’s our goal to exercise, or obtain, all e-rights on our entire backlist, including the deep backlist, but in this instance we negotiated an agreed-upon separation of print from electronic, to our mutual satisfaction,” Houghton Mifflin Harcourt spokeswoman Lori Glazer said in a statement.
Glazer seems to echo the “well-just-this-once” sort of language that Random House used earlier this year in ceding some of William Styron’s digital rights to Open Road.
For his part, Conroy pleads e-book apathy:
Conroy says he doesn’t involve himself deeply in e-book decisions, calling himself, good-naturedly, “one of those writers who’s bullied by his agent — especially in this area.” (Rusoff believes otherwise.)
Ah yes, the agents — they do have a stake in this, don’t they?