As a member of The Authors Guild, I received this message today, and was asked to share it…sooooo
Schuster has changed its standard contract language in an attempt to
retain exclusive 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 publisher is signaling that it will no
longer include minimum sales requirements for a work to be considered
in print. Simon & Schuster is apparently seeking nothing less than
an exclusive grant
of rights in perpetuity. Effectively, the publisher would co-own your
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.
Other major trade publishers are not seeking a similar perpetual grant of rights.
We urge you to consider your options carefully:
Remember that if you sign a contract with Simon & Schuster that
includes this clause, they’ll say you’re wed to them. Your book will
live and die with this particular conglomerate.
2. Ask your agent to explore other
options. Other publishers are not seeking an irrevocable grant of rights.
If you have a manuscript that may be auctioned, consider asking your
agent to exclude Simon & Schuster imprints unless they agree before
the auction to use industry standard terms.
4. Let us know if
other major publishers follow suit. Any coordination among publishers
on this matter has serious legal implications.
Okay, I shared it. Now, what the heck is up with this? Who came up with this bit of business, and why?