Mike Fleming

BREAKING: The e-book rift between Random House Worldwide chairman Markus Dohle and lit agent Andrew Wylie really is in the past history books. The duo has formalized a far-reaching deal to publish a memoir by Salman Rushdie. The book will be published in 2012 and will cover the Booker Prize-winning author’s entire life, including the time when he was forced into hiding after the Ayatollah Khomeini issued a fatwa on his life following the publication of The Satanic Verses in 1988. It revives a long relationship between the author and publisher.

The seven-figure deal will involve multiple imprints under the Random House roof, and covers hardcover, paperback, audio and e-book rights for English, German and Spanish-speaking territories. Random House will publish in most of the territories, while Knopf Canada will handle the book up north. The RH imprint Jonathan Cape will publish in the UK; Germany will be handled by RH’s Verlagsgruppe Random House imprint and Spain and Latin America editions will be published by Random House Mondadori’s Literatura Modadori. The Wylie Agency will sell other territories.

This is a giant turnaround from earlier this year, when Random House issued its own fatwa on Wylie after he revealed plans to form an imprint and sell the e-book rights to his author backlists exclusively to Amazon for use on its Kindle device. Dohle rescinded his order to view Wylie as a competitor when they met and found common ground for RH to continue handling e-books on Wylie deals. e-book revenues are becoming an increasingly important revenue source to major publishing houses and are expected to overtake traditional books eventually. This is the biggest deal since that truce was drawn.

Susan Kamil, publisher of the US Random House imprint said “Will Murphy, his US editor and I have read many pages from Mr. Rushdie’s first draft, and we are dazzled once again by his prodigious literary gifts and his mesmerizing ability to tell a riveting story, this time of his very own life. We can’t wait to read the completed manuscript and to work with him to bring it to publication.”

Rushdie is currently working on a film adaptation of his novel Midnight’s Children, which won the Booker Prize in 1981.

Said RH chief Dohle: “It is a privilege for Random House to publish this remarkable memoir by Salman Rushdie, whose courage and commitment to freedom of expression is matched only by his unsurpassed importance as a writer.”