Hmm, my post seems to have disappeared during the transfer of this thread from AW Roundtable. It was a long one, too.
Oh well. My main point was this. If Trident is proposing to guide its authors through the ever-changing electronic self-publishing process, providing advice and making referrals, this might be termed Assisted Self-Publishing, and it could be a legitimate agency function. Done thoroughly and ethically, with the usual agently functions thrown in, it could be well worth a 15% commission.
If the agency starts actually designing ebooks, though, that's verging on publishing in my mind. The mention of sending previously unpublished books on this route also raises questions. Would the agency advise this right off the bat for some books? Under what circumstances? A book with a definite but limited market might be a legit candidate. Or would Assisted Self-Publishing be a fall-back measure for books not taken on elsewhere?
One thing's for sure. The SP gurus should soon be howling at this invasion of their turf by LEGACY PUBLISHING MINIONS!