Simon and Schuster Strikes Back

Posted on May 22, 2007

Simon and Schuster has struck back at the Author's Guild. You will recall that the Authors Guild and major literary agents are very unhappy with Simon and Schuster's new standard author contract. The publishers says the Guild has "perpetrated serious misinformation" about its contract. Here is an excerpt from the statement by Simon and Schuster:

In recent years, Simon & Schuster has accepted, at the request of some agencies, contract language that specifies a minimum level of activity for print on demand titles. Our experience with the current high quality and accessibility of print on demand titles indicates to us that such minimums are no longer necessary. Our position on reversions for active titles remains unchanged. As always, we are willing to have an open and forthright dialogue on this or any other topic.

When considering this issue, we ask you to please keep in mind these important points:

  • Through print on demand technology, publishers now have the ability, for the first time in history, to actually fulfill the promise which is at the core of their contracts with authors - to keep the author's book available for sale over the term of the license.

  • We view this progress as a great opportunity to maximize the sales potential for slow moving titles, and some of the best news for authors and publishers in a long time. The potential benefit for all concerned in incremental income for the publishing partnership far outweighs any imaginary negatives purported by the Authors Guild.

  • We and others are investing heavily in digitization so that authors and publishers can reap the maximum benefit of publication over the long term. New technologies including print on demand will extend the life of a book far beyond what has been possible in the past.

  • Contrary to the Authors Guild assertion, using technologies like print on demand is not about "squirreling away" rights, nor does it mean that "no copies are available to be ordered by traditional bookstores." Print on demand is simply a means of manufacturing a book, making it widely available to retailers and consumers.
  • This statement isn't going to allay any fears. In fact, it appears to confirm that the company will use print on demand technology to make sure that an author never gets his rights back. So long as the manuscript is stored in an electronic database, the publisher can claim it's "in print" and therefore the rights will never revert back to the author. Will the other big publishers follow suit and do a rights grab? Let's hope not.

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