Published: February 13, 2008 New York Times

The novelist Richard Ford (Fred R. Conrad/The New York Times)In a surprise move, Richard Ford, the Pulitzer Prize-winning author of “Independence Day” and “The Lay of the Land,” has switched publishers for his next three books.

Mr. Ford, who turns 64 on Saturday, sold the United States rights to two novels and a short-story collection to Ecco, an imprint of HarperCollins Publishers, ending his 17-year relationship with Alfred A. Knopf and more than two decades of working with Gary Fisketjon, now a prominent editor at Knopf. At Ecco Mr. Ford will work with the publisher, Daniel Halpern.

In an announcement on Tuesday, Ecco described the deal as “major,” but in an interview Mr. Halpern declined to disclose the terms.

Reached by telephone, Mr. Ford deferred to Mr. Halpern and Paul Bogaards, a Knopf spokesman, for questions on why he made the move. Amanda Urban, Mr. Ford’s literary agent, said, “It was a long and fruitful relationship with Knopf, and regrettably we couldn’t come to terms.”

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