Why is superstar editor Betsy Mitchell moving to e-books?

Last fall, longtime Del Rey editor-in-chief Betsy Mitchell announced her retirement. But she's got bigger plans than taking up a new hobby: Mitchell has joined Open Road Integrated Media as their strategic adviser for science fiction and fantasy.

This news (reported by GalleyCat) is big for the relatively young digital publisher. Mitchell's a 30-year industry veteran, having worked at several of the big SF publishers (Baen, Del Rey, Bantam Spectra) and with many beloved authors (Terry Brooks, Dan Simmons, William Gibson, Naomi Novik). She announced in September that she'd be leaving Del Rey this month, but the move to Open Road — where she will be making acquisitions, including backlist titles — comes as an intriguing surprise.

But here's the thing to understand about Open Road: A good bit of their business focuses on ebook releases of backlist books. Publishers often don't have free-and-clear claim to digital formats, and that's where Open Road comes in. (Nor is this approach without its risks — Harper Collins sued them in December over their release of Julie of the Wolves.) And in her statement, Mitchell was explicit about her interest in this: "I'm thrilled to be joining a company that understands so well the possibilities of author backlist. Their methods of bringing authors' older titles back into the literary conversation are truly exciting to me."

Given Mitchell's long history in publishing, she's well-positioned to make some interesting acquisitions. That means we might finally be seeing some of our old, hard-to-find favorites in ebook form.