Random House sues online publisher over e-novels

Thursday, March 01, 2001
Random House is suing an online publisher for selling electronic versions of novels it owns in paperback format.

The company has filed a suit in New York against fledgling dotcom RosettaBooks.

The action involves eight titles, including Kurt Vonnegut's Cat's Cradle and William Styron's Sophie's Choice.

"These books are in print in paperback editions from various Random House imprints and are important titles in Random House's backlist publishing programmes," the publisher said in a statement.

RosettaBooks, which officially started business this week, offers e-novels by leading contemporary authors. Vonnegut's novel has already made it to number five on its best-seller list.

The firm's chief executive Arthur Klebanoff countered Random House's action by saying that owning paperback rights does not preclude ownership in other formats.

He said: "This is Random House claiming the electronic rights of 21,000 titles on the basis that ... a book is a book is an e-book."

Rosetta has retained the legal firm Boies, Schiller & Flexner.

David Boies led the US government's successful anti-trust lawsuit against Microsoft and former Vice President Al Gore's unsuccessful effort to allow manual recounts of disputed ballots in Florida.