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aruna
07-01-2007, 12:31 PM
Simon and Schuster have a new rights clause.
Danuta Kean, a leading UK journalist in the book world,
has blogged about it:
http://www.danutakean.com/blog/?p=235#more-235


Simon & Schuster set a worrying precedent

If you haven’t seen the following item in today’s NY Times, you should read it. It is an understandable way to go for publishers, but not good news for authors.

From the New York Times
Simon & Schuster, 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.
With the new contract language, the publisher would be able stop printing a book and prevent the author from publishing it with any other house.

Sean D. Schaffer
07-01-2007, 12:39 PM
That seems like a trend with S&S. I read another disturbing thread concerning their contracts, I think in Bewares and Background Checks. I'm not sure if this particular issue was the topic, but I remember S&S being discussed.

This does not sound like good business to me. I wonder why they're doing this? Are they shooting themselves in the foot for a particular reason, or is this just some not-so-nice way of bullying people?

In any case, it does not bode well for any future S&S authors.

:(

kristie911
07-01-2007, 01:50 PM
I agree that it's not good for their authors.

But on the other hand, if S&S wanted to publish my book...I think I'd sign away just about anything. :Shrug:

aruna
07-01-2007, 02:52 PM
I agree that it's not good for their authors.

But on the other hand, if S&S wanted to publish my book...I think I'd sign away just about anything. :Shrug:

Right!
But I'm guessing a really good agent could negotiate that clause away. Because of course any author who had a choice of publishers would not accept it. So they would miss out on the very authors who do have a choice, ie the hot properties. I'm hoping that some experts like U. Jim or Victoria will chime in here. Like, before I sign that looming S&S contract...!

skelly
07-01-2007, 03:33 PM
I would imagine that it is just meant to be a bargaining tool. "Okay, give us more of this, and we'll just forget about that pesky little clause thingie. Here, let me freshen your drink."

Lauri B
07-01-2007, 04:53 PM
Aruna,
I would personally not sign a contract that gives S&S rights in perpetuity. I'm sure you can wiggle out of that one.

aruna
07-01-2007, 05:17 PM
Aruna,
I would personally not sign a contract that gives S&S rights in perpetuity. I'm sure you can wiggle out of that one.

Thankfully I'm not in that position - just kidding about the looming contract! I can't see how S&S can see this through - no author with any savvy would do that.

scarletpeaches
07-01-2007, 05:20 PM
I think I would rather remain unpublished than sign away my intellectual property.

ATP
07-01-2007, 06:02 PM
I agree that it's not good for their authors.

But on the other hand, if S&S wanted to publish my book...I think I'd sign away just about anything. :Shrug:

I'd be careful of being dazzled by the 'name' / 'high profile'publisher. Just remember, that JKRowling's advance for her first of the HP series was
GBP 1,500. Now, put yourself in her shoes, the difference being that the publisher is the 'high profile' S & S. In keeping with first time authors,
I presume that it is more than likely that the advance you would receive would be small, comparatively speaking. They also have this clause in their contract. Nine times out of ten, I would guess that first time authors would jump at the opportunity regardless. Yet, the agent, if he/she is worth his/her salt, would have to negotiate. But, I certainly wouldn't be so nonchalant about the clause and the ability to 'negotiate it away during drinks'.


S&S is part of a media conglomerate (Murdoch's empire, I think?). Their legal eagles have been paying a lot of attention to the rights action concerning material whose rights have expired and moved into the public domain. Unless I am wrong, they sniff an opportunity to recoup monies later down the line, or protect their property. In signing a contract which possesses such a clause, my impression is that, in a sense, you commit to becoming a bonded slave to the publisher. I ask you-is this what you are willing to allow yourself to become?

Christine N.
07-01-2007, 06:57 PM
Nope, Murdoch owns Harper Collins.

maestrowork
07-01-2007, 07:50 PM
I personally wouldn't sign anything that gives up my rights for life. OK, only if they give me $10 million would I even consider. :)

Julie Worth
07-01-2007, 07:56 PM
...on the other hand, if S&S wanted to publish my book...I think I'd sign away just about anything.

Your name has been recorded by S&S, and a contract is on its way. Don't worry about the boy--he'll be treated well.

Julie Worth
07-01-2007, 08:00 PM
S&S is part of a media conglomerate (Murdoch's empire, I think?).


S&S is the only big publisher left that's not foreign-owned.

ATP
07-01-2007, 08:26 PM
S&S is the only big publisher left that's not foreign-owned.

As an aside, I am not entirely sure of the implication here, if there is one. According to my understanding, Murdoch is now officially a tax paying US citizen. I know that the US allows dual citizenship; but I don't know if Murdoch retained his Australian passport. I believe that this is something the Australian Government had some say in. But, in the end, it matters not a whit to you or me.

kristie911
07-01-2007, 08:41 PM
Your name has been recorded by S&S, and a contract is on its way. Don't worry about the boy--he'll be treated well.

He'll be fine. He's tough. ;)

Sean D. Schaffer
07-01-2007, 09:01 PM
Snipped ... no author with any savvy would do that.


Just like no author with any savvy would sign with PublishAmerica. Now I'm really bothered.

Anthony Ravenscroft
07-02-2007, 12:38 AM
The OOP reversion clause has never by any stretch of the language been "traditional." It's only in recent decades that various writing guilds have begun to insist on clarification re "what the hell do you mean by OOP, exactly?" otherwise that leaves the house free to claim imminent reprint even if "imminent" means "oh, in a few years, maybe, we'll see."

Writers either have to stay savvy about this nonsense, or work with a sharp & cynical agent.

Jamesaritchie
07-02-2007, 12:46 AM
This contract is no more and no less than theft, and no writer with any sense is going to sign it.

Claudia Gray
07-02-2007, 02:41 AM
Yeah, this is disturbing. Agents have blogged about it and many say that they are going to try to have it removed from their clients' prospective contracts; it will be interesting to see how much success they have.

If S&S were my only potential buyer for something, and my agent just could not wriggle out of this, I'd probably still sign -- but I'd want to have sent to every other publishing house first, and to have done a lot of negotiating.

Jamesaritchie
07-02-2007, 04:09 AM
Yeah, this is disturbing. Agents have blogged about it and many say that they are going to try to have it removed from their clients' prospective contracts; it will be interesting to see how much success they have.

If S&S were my only potential buyer for something, and my agent just could not wriggle out of this, I'd probably still sign -- but I'd want to have sent to every other publishing house first, and to have done a lot of negotiating.

If S&S thinks something is good enough to buy, I seriously doubt many other publishers would turn it down.

Soccer Mom
07-02-2007, 04:18 AM
Kristen Nelson has blogged about it here (http://pubrants.blogspot.com/2007_05_01_archive.html). You have to scroll down to middle of May, but she has a series of blogs about it.

basically, IMHO, it's like stealing. I would never agree to that kind of contract. JAR is right, if it's good enough to get a contract at S&S, then it's good enough to sell elsewhere.

NiennaC
07-02-2007, 04:53 AM
basically, IMHO, it's like stealing. I would never agree to that kind of contract.

I completely agree. I don't care of S&S is the only publisher willing to buy mine (but, like Soccer Mom said, if S&S wants it, there'd probably be others) I would never agree to that kind of contract.

The Author's Guild has a couple of articles on what they're doing about this, and other news. I listed some of them here for you to peruse.


Announcing Our Republish or Perish Campaign (http://www.authorsguild.org/news/announces_republish_perish.htm)

Science Fiction & Fantasy Writers of America Supports Authors Guild Position on Simon & Schuster Rights Grab (http://www.authorsguild.org/news/05_23_07.htm)