Literary-Estate1-153x197The Bookseller has a lengthy feature on estate publishing, discussing the challenges and rewards inherent in managing the literary estates of deceased authors. The entire article is interesting, but the section on e-readers might be of particular interest to TeleRead readers.

A number of estate owners discuss the new digital revolution in positive ways, expressing their delight that the late authors’ books can find new audiences as e-books. They also point out that it can be hard to get publishers to print very many copies of works by authors who have been dead for a while—a problem e-books do not have.

Not all estates are quite so positive, however.

With the main aim of the majority of literary estates being to stay true to the memory of the author and their work, when it comes to the difficult questions of abridgement, electronic rights, illustrated books or sequels, there is often an initial sense that declining new avenues is the best way of preventing any disservice; it took HarperCollins seven years of negotiations with the Tolkien estate before it was allowed to release e-books, for example.


  1. It beats me why ebooks are lumped in with abridging, animation and sequels as threats to the legacy of the author. The other three actually change the story, while ebooks simply allow you to read exactly the same story, just not on paper.

    What possible threat to the author’s legacy is that?

  2. Clytie, I had exactly the same thought. How these things can be lumped together with ebooks is beyond me. I would think that estate owners would be thrilled to have both another avenue of revenue plus the opportunity to introduce the author to a new generation. Ebooks have opened up the works of so many 19th and early 20th century authors to people of today who did not even previously know they existed. I do know that I’m talking about 2 different things, public domain and books still in copyright. But still…

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