Saturday, July 19, 2008

Simon & Schuster Tries Again

In May of 2007, the Authors Guild issued a press release that said:
Simon & Schuster [S&S], one of the largest book publishers in the U.S., has altered its standard contract with authors in an effort to retain control of books even after they have gone out of print. Until now, Simon & Schuster, like all other major trade publishers, has followed the traditional practice in which rights to a work revert to the author if the book falls out of print or if its sales are low.

The new contract would allow Simon & Schuster to consider a book in print, and under its exclusive control, so long as it’s available in any form, including through its own in-house database -- even if no copies are available to be ordered by traditional bookstores.

That press release started a brouhaha until the Authors Guild posted the following on their site on May 31st:
Simon and Schuster executives apologized for any early miscommunication on this issue, and appreciated the opportunity to clarify their position.

They informed us that S&S is investing a lot of resources in its digital publishing initiative . . . Their goal is to keep books in print more effectively and to market frontlist and backlist titles more vibrantly.

They have confirmed for us that they are agreeable to negotiating with agents a revenue-based threshold to determine the in-print status of a book.
What a difference a year makes!

On Thursday, the Authors Guild sent out an advisory to its members warning them about a letter Simon and Schuster [S&S] is sending to authors. Apparently S&S is seeking to modify their contracts to establish the standard royalty for e-books at 15% of "the catalog retail price."

The Authors Guild posted the advisory on their website here:
1) Discuss the amendment with your agent or attorney, if you have one.

2) Depending on your existing contract with Simon & Schuster, the amendment may grant the publisher rights that you've otherwise retained.

3) Be aware that the amendment may affect your ability to obtain a reversion of rights.
We'll talk about this more in tomorrow's post.

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