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cacasey
10-21-2010, 11:41 PM
I hope this is the right place for my question about regaining the rights of out of print books so another publisher can publish the ebook editions. Yeah. Very timely topic right now.

I met an author at a book fair who has two fantasy books published with Berkley Books, an imprint of Penguin. One was published in 1996 and the sequel in 2006.

First off, here's the current status of the two books. The first book, as far as we can tell, is out of print. The second book is still in print and is also available on Kindle and selling rather well there.

The author is concerned that her book is on Kindle without any notification (or contract re-negotiation for ebook royalties--I know, that would be asking too much), and she hasn't actually seen any money from these ebooks sales.

It's also rather odd that Penguin has Book 2 of the series on Kindle and not Book 1, which would logically mean they consider Book 1 to be truly out of print and no longer hold the rights to it.

The author is interested in putting out a Kindle edition of Book 1 but has never received notification from Penguin that the book is indeed out of print. She says she has not been able to get any information about the book's status from Penguin.

So does anyone know how she can go about getting some kind of official word that her book is out of print? And if the publisher insists on hanging onto the book, how she can wrestle the rights from them?

Thanks,
Casey

thothguard51
10-22-2010, 12:09 AM
She needs to go back over her contract and see what rights she granted vs what she thinks she granted.

The contract should also specify the length of the terms and any out clauses by the publisher or author. She has to follow the terms of the contract.

As far as receiving royalties. Has she kept Penguin up to date on any address changes? Has she ever contacted anyone about statements which she should be getting quarterly at least, and tax forms at the end of the year.

Something is not adding up... Penguin is generally very reputable.

As far as E-rights, a lot of publishers are trying to grab e-rights on books in which no e-rights were expressly granted by the fact that most pre 2008 contracts specify the author is granting them the right to publish in any form. Its a fight right now and agents and authors are the ones in the trenches battling the big 6. We have not heard the last of this yet...

cacasey
10-22-2010, 12:31 AM
Hi Nick,

She's still receiving royalties from the book that is still in print. She just hasn't seen Kindle related royalties from the same book.

And she's tried to contact them recently about both the Kindle edition of the second book and the status of her first book but hasn't gotten any response from them.

And this is just my curiosity about how all this works--shouldn't she have gotten at least some kind of notification from Penguin that they were releasing a Kindle edition of one of her books? It seems to me, this would be, at the very least, common courtesy, and wouldn't they want the author to know, so she could promote this new edition of her book?

Casey

Terie
10-22-2010, 01:01 AM
And this is just my curiosity about how all this works--shouldn't she have gotten at least some kind of notification from Penguin that they were releasing a Kindle edition of one of her books? It seems to me, this would be, at the very least, common courtesy, and wouldn't they want the author to know, so she could promote this new edition of her book?

That's not at all unusual. I'm friends with a top-selling author in her genre, and oftentimes, she hears about new releases of things like e-books and audiobooks from her readers, not her publisher.

And FWIW, e-book rights were mentioned in my contract, back in 2005, so I bet they're in her second book's contract. Also, I was never notified about the Kindle release, either. A notification was included with our royalty statements awhile back that files had been sent to Amazon for 'Kindle-ization', but it was Amazon who did the release, not my publisher. I only found out about the release of my Kindle books by watching Amazon.

As far as royalties, she should probably check the release date of the Kindle version. Could be it was released after her last royalty statement period.

Jamesaritchie
10-22-2010, 06:55 PM
Such questions are always easy to answer. If you have an agent, she calls the publisher and asks. If you don't have an agent, you call the publisher and ask. There is no other way to get the answers, and the publisher will always tell the the truth.

CAWriter
10-25-2010, 04:42 AM
and the publisher will always tell the the truth.

Such optimism from one of our resident pessimists!

Honestly, not all publishers are great about reverting rights on OOP works. One of my publishers sent me a nice notification along with a letter to return giving my current contact info so they could forward future excerpt requests, etc.

My other publisher (very large also) hedged and huffed and never did give me a straight answer about reverting rights after a book was declared OOP on Amazon and had been unavailable for order from them for at least two years. Even my very experienced completely legit agent couldn't get them to comply.

Ultimately, it was up to me to send a registered letter explaining the contacts I'd made, the information about the books not being available through any standard retail outlet and sum it up with a statement something to the effect of "Unless we hear otherwise by XX date, receipt of this letter will stand as acknowledgement that the forenamed work is deemed out of print and all previously granted rights have reverted to Author."