Pengun, long time publishers of the James Bond novels, have been left out in the cold by Ian Fleming Enterprises after is was discovered the publishers had no hold over the electronic rights to Fleming's novels.
Last week, in a highly significant move whose implications will have repercussions throughout the industry, the Fleming estate announced it was licensing the ebook rights to the Bond books not to Penguin (which distributes the paperbacks) but to Ian Fleming Publications.
Plainly, the Fleming estate can see that there is, potentially, a huge audience for ebook versions of Casino Royale and the rest and it wants to put this asset in the hands of people who know how to exploit it. So bye-bye Penguin. The suits at Pearson will not be overjoyed at this, but they are playing hardball. According to the Bookseller, Penguin has declared it will walk away from any future paperback licence renewal unless digital rights are included. The Fleming estate will not be surprised at this response to their bold ebook gamble. They know that, when the time comes, they can take the Fleming backlist to Random House, HarperCollins or any major trade house with a strong paperback division.
Speculation in the book industry is that if Ian Fleming Publications are successful with the 007 eBooks it could leave the path clear for the digital rights of other lucrative franchises to slip through their hands - Tolkein is one example and so are Roal Dahl and C S Lewis.