Wednesday, November 03, 2010

Digitizing 007

Amid all the talk about e-book publishing taking over from paper, and with some authors having turned evangelical on this topic, I was interested to see that Ian Fleming Publications has finally decided to publish the James Bond catalogue in electronic form, even bypassing the Penguin Group, the novels’ longtime English-language publisher.

As Britain’s Telegraph reports today:
The digital versions of the 007 books will be published by Ian Fleming Publications, which administers the rights to the Bond books. The 14 titles, including Dr. No, Moonraker, and Diamonds Are Forever, will launch on November 4, and will be made available via online e-booksellers such as and

The deal has come about because Penguin did not own the digital rights to the Bond novels--a concept that was never considered when Ian Fleming was writing.

There are many authors still working that have not signed away the digital rights to their books, allowing them to cut out their traditional publisher if they chose to. Agents said they had grown increasingly irritated by the low royalty rates offered by publishers for digital rights.

Philip Jones, the deputy editor of
The Bookseller, the industry publication, said: “This has big implications for the established publishing houses, which are already under threat from Internet retailers, who are pricing very aggressively.

“They could be missing out on millions of pounds worth of revenue in the future because they never signed up the digital rights to their authors. There are also issues around new books, with publishers insistent that digital rights have to be included as part of any deal, otherwise they could end up paying for all the marketing, while the upstart owner of the digital rights reaps the benefits.” has its own take on this subject here.

Meanwhile, Jeffery Deaver--who has been hired to produce the next James Bond novel--talks about that project with USA Today:
The family-owned Fleming business took notice when Deaver won the UK’s Crime Writers’ Association’s coveted Ian Fleming Steel Dagger Award for Garden of Beasts (2004), a thriller about an American assassin sent to Berlin during the run-up to Hitler’s rise to power.

In his acceptance speech, Deaver talked about Fleming’s influence on his work.

Deaver’s initiation into the Bond family--more than 100 million 007 novels have sold worldwide--could significantly raise his profile.

Other novelists have written Bond novels since Fleming’s death in 1964--including Kingsley Amis, John Gardner and, most recently, Sebastian Faulks (his 2008 book,
Devil May Care, reached No. 38 on USA Today’s best-seller list)--but they all took place in the original era. Deaver is taking a new approach.

“There’s no more Cold War to fight,” says Deaver, so his new Bond, of the Fleming estate, will fight “post-9/11 evil.”

“I want to stay true to the original James Bond, who many people don’t know much about,” he says, referring to the secret agent Fleming portrayed in 14 novels, and not the movie Bond. “People know Daniel Craig, they know Pierce Brosnan, they know Roger Moore and Sean Connery, all of whom brought a great deal to the stories of 007. But the original Bond was a very dark, edgy character.”

Otto Penzler, proprietor of The Mysterious Bookshop in New York, says Deaver’s writing style can only enhance the Bond franchise.

“The main thing he can bring is a greater sense of suspense to the books,” Penzler says. “A lot of the books and movies are becoming basically chase plots, and Jeff really has the ability to create suspense better than almost any writer working today.”

Explaining why Deaver was tapped for the latest Bond adventure, Fleming’s niece Kate Grimond says: “He has a great understanding and appreciation of Fleming’s original creation. We feel sure that he will produce an exciting page-turning 21st-century Bond mission--and a Bond for the present day.”
I am delighted that it was Garden of Beasts, my favorite Deaver novel, that got the Bond folk interested in his continuing Fleming’s series.

1 comment:

Evan Lewis said...

I'm glad to hear that Faulks' stint on the series is over. I've read all the pastiches, and his was the weakest effort ever. I was appalled to see him billed as "writing as Ian Fleming."