The ownership of the eBook rights to older titles is a growing source of conflict in the publishing industry, reports the New York Times. William Styron might have been one of the leading literary lions of recent decades, but his books are not selling much these days. Now his family has a plan to lure digital-age readers with eBook versions of titles such as "Sophie’s Choice" and "The Confessions of Nat Turner." But the question of who owns the electronic rights to such older titles is in dispute, making it a rising source of conflict in one of the publishing industry’s last remaining areas of growth. Styron’s family believes it retains the rights, because the books were first published before eBooks existed. Random House, Styron’s longtime publisher, says it owns those rights, and it is determined to secure its place–and continuing profits–in the Kindle era. The discussions about the digital fate of Styron’s work are similar to the negotiations playing out across the book industry as publishers hustle to capture the rights to release eBook versions of so-called backlist books. The tussle over who owns the electronic rights–and how much the authors should earn in digital royalties–puts into play works by authors such as Ralph Ellison and John Updike…

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