Robert GottliebPublishing. It’s a business of words. Yet, definitions of many common words in publishing’s vocabulary are evolving and mutating. What we mean by authors, agents, and even publishers is no longer clear. The man who discovered Tom Clancy in the early 1980s, and subsequently became one of the youngest agents ever to head the William Morris Agency’s literary department, has seen the change and seized on it for his clients’ benefit.

“First and foremost, we are advocates for the authors,” Robert Gottlieb, chairman of Trident Media Group, recently told CCC’s Chris Kenneally. “These are challenging times. Agents need not only to know material, and help their authors with their manuscripts, but also they have to understand the dynamics of the business in a way that most likely has not happened in the past.”

During a recent interview in his Manhattan office, Gottlieb painted an admiring picture of a new entrant to publishing, though the same player is hardly new to the book business. “I enjoy working with Amazon. They’re innovative,” he said. “They are giving authors a very, very good deal on the e-book rights to their books as part of the overall publishing matrix that you arrange with them.”

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