On Stephen Covey’s Digital Rights Deal with Amazon

Some of the biggest eBook news this week–after the fallout from Random House’s rights grab–is the announcement that Stephen R. Covey, author of The 7 Habits of Highly Effective People, and Principal-Centered Leadership, is 7habits_small.jpghanding over the eBook rights to those titles directly to Amazon, bypassing his publisher, Simon & Schuster. They are already on sale in the Kindle Store for $7.99.

Given that 7 Habits was first published 20 years ago (before eBook rights were part of standard book contracts), Covey’s decision to go direct to Amazon could set a frightening precedent for big publishers, who may find themselves sympathizing with Random House’s decision to try to grab at all the rights they can.

The Yahoo Tech blog calls it “publishing world’s worst nightmare.” The New York Times notes that “the move promises to raise the already high anxiety level among publishers about the economics of digital publishing and could offer authors a way to earn more profits from their works than they do under the traditional system.”

If this week’s eBook Summit is any indication, there is actually less “high anxiety” among publishing professionals than one might think–scroll through the coverage on eBookNewser and GalleyCat; you’re likely to find that many in the trenches are excited. The main problem is a lack of communication between the big companies–Random House, Google–and smaller publishers, agents, tech developers, etc. When someone like Covey makes a decision that’s brave and freeing for writers, the big houses panic, the big media outlets panic, and the bloggers, smaller publishers, techies, wonder about the possibilities, or so it seems to this blogger.