Amazon buys rights to Ian Fleming's James Bond novels
Hold the phone! Amazon announced Tuesday that it has purchased the North American rights to Ian Fleming's James Bond books. James Bond, of course, is the debonair British superspy 007, whose bestselling books have become an iconic big-screen movie franchise. Under the agreement, Amazon will retain republication rights for 10 years, to both the print books, which have sold 100 million copies worldwide, and the e-books, which have not. Yet.
The 14 Bond books that fall under the agreement are, in chronological order (American publication dates): "Casino Royale" (1953), "Live and Let Die" (1954), "Moonraker" (1955), "Diamonds Are Forever" (1956), "From Russia with Love" (1957), "Dr. No" (1958), "Goldfinger" (1959), "For your Eyes Only" (1960), "Thunderball" (1961), "The Spy Who Loved Me" (1962), "On Her Majesty's Secret Service" (1963), "You Only Live Twice" (1964), "The Man With The Golden Gun" (1965), and "Octopussy and the Living Daylights" (1966).
The films made from most of those titles have kept the James Bond tradition alive for new generations. After Fleming's death in 1964, his estate hired a number of other authors to write new Bond books. John Gardner, Raymond Benson, Sebastian Faulks, Jeffery Deaver and Kingsley Amis (writing as Robert Markham) wrote additional books, which do not fall under the Amazon licensing agreement.
What Amazon will pick up, in addition to the 14 original Bond books, are two nonfiction books by Ian Fleming: travel essays collected in 1963's "Thrilling Cities and "The Diamond Smugglers" (1957), about, not surprisingly, diamond smugglers.
In the news release, Corinne Turner, managing director of Ian Fleming Publications Ltd., said, "We are excited to be using the opportunity of this re-license to introduce Ian Fleming's books to a broader audience in the USA, and we believe that Amazon Publishing has the ability to place the books back at the heart of the Bond brand, balancing traditional publishing routes with new technologies and new ways of reaching our readers."
Amazon will be at the center of the introduction of these Bond ebooks. The Wall Street Journal reports that to start, James Bond e-books will be exclusively available in Amazon's Kindle store.
-- Carolyn Kellogg
Photos: Left, Ian Fleming in 1962. Credit: Associated Press. Right, Sean Connery as James Bond in the film version of "From Russia With Love." Credit: MGM Home Entertainment