Best-Selling Author Opts For Kindle Exclusivity

This will probably raise red flags across the publishing industry, but it is certainly a coup for and its Kindle e-book reader. Steven Covey is's 13th-highest top-selling author overall, and now has "electronic exclusivity" to two of his best-sellers.

The e-book versions of Stephen Covey's bestselling books, "The 7 Habits of Highly Effective People" and "Principle-Centered Leadership," are now available exclusively (for a year) in the Amazon Kindle Store. They are both available for $7.99.

In doing so, Covey has moved the rights of the electronic versions of those books from his traditional publisher, Simon & Shuster, to RosettaBooks. The move is bound to be contentions; these so-called backlist titles, which are books published many years, if not decades, ago, are often steady sellers for publishers, but do not have electronic versions of the books explicitly called out in a contract. Thus, many authors and agents argue that because the contracts for older books do not explicitly spell out electronic rights, they reside with the author.
The move to RosettaBooks is a sweet one for Covey. According to the New York Times, Covey will be getting a much higher royalty now, more than 50 percent. The standard digital royalty from publishers is 25 percent of net proceeds.

However, Simon & Shuster made statements that point to possible litigation. Adam Rothberg, a spokesman for Simon & Schuster said, "Our position is that electronic editions of our backlist titles belong in the Simon & Schuster catalog, and we intend to protect our interests in those publications." He did not comment specifically on Steven Covey's move.

This news has two components: it shows how e-book readers are a valid market now. It also gives the Kindle a leg up on its competition, which includes Sony's e-book readers and Barnes & Noble's nook, particularly if can continue to nail such exclusive deals.