The fears were raised after the estate of Ian Fleming announced that all the Bond novels are to be made available as e-books in the UK for the first time this week. But they are not being released by the author’s print publisher Penguin.
Industry insiders suggested that blockbusting authors including JK Rowling, Martin Amis and Salman Rushdie would be looking at the deal closely.
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 Amazon.co.uk and Waterstone.com.
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.