Agents who also act as epublishers might find this story instructive. Random House was interested in epublishing Tom Sharpe's backlist. Did they contact his agent-slash-epublisher Sonya Land? Like hell they did. She is essentially competition for this function, not a facilitator. They went straight to the author and struck a deal.
Protests by the president of Association of Authors Agents and Land herself strike me as frankly naive. When the agents stops acting soley in the interests of the client, and develops their own interests as a publisher, the old rules and courtesies go out the window. By making a grab for the 50% cut of a publisher you put at risk your 15% cut as an agent and risk being left out in he cold. Boo-fracking-hoo.
Keep in mind that Land did not involve Random House when grabbing the digital rights to the Catherine Cookson's books (that they release in print), and releasing them under her own 'Peach Publishing' imprint. (And in my opinion if you compare Peach Publishing's digital work with Random House's the latter does a far better job). Land also mentioned Sharpe as another author she might do the same with.
Sharpe, it seems, had other ideas.Good for him, I say.