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Posts Tagged ‘Association of Authors’ Agents’

S&S UK to Follow Parent Lead on Contract Changes

The Bookseller reports that Simon & Schuster‘s UK arm will follow its parent’s lead in extending its author contracts, despite the ongoing row in New York between the publisher and the Authors Guild over the reversion of author rights. The move provoked fury from UK authors and agents. Association of Authors’ Agents president Clare Alexander said: “The fact that someone can download a book is not the same as publishing a book. I don’t welcome publishers using it as an excuse to own something in perpetuity without any marketing investment. We insist on the rate of sale being the key element to a reversion clause.”

UK publishers, meanwhile, are calling for the whole concept of rights reversion to be heavily revised or even scrapped. “Why should it be that way? If you buy a house and you don’t go to it, you don’t stop owning the house,” said one publishing CEO. “It seems to be based on a weird notion of punishment, where you’re punished for not trying hard enough.” And based on comments from Bloomsbury CEO Nigel Newton and Macmillan CEO Richard Charkin that POD must be reckoned with in future publishing contracts, this fight is not about to go away anytime soon.

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Dateline LBF: Making Global Sense of it

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The New York Times' Alan Riding has been at LBF all week and seems, at least for the purposes of this article, to have a golly-gee approach to the trade show that’s less about celebrating books, he says, and more about “the art of the deal.” And even though the mood is optimistic and lots of agents are getting face time with publishers and their foreign rights crew, the consensus is that, well, there is no consensus book. “You won’t get a ‘book of the fair”as you did 10 or 15 years ago,” said Tom Weldon, managing director at Penguin General, one of Penguin’s divisions. “With the Internet and all the other information that is out there, you no longer get huge deals here. The hard work is about foreign rights and exports.”

Meanwhile, National Book Critics Circle president John Freeman has been filing dispatches from LBF for the NBCC blog (full disclosure: I’m a member) where he reports on Monday’s panel with John Banville and what books are about to be released in the UK this fall, which Freeman finds to be “sort of useful since England’s publishing schedules tend to be a bit ahead of America’s — and they’re packed.”

And over at the Bookseller, Alison Bone reports that UK trade publishers are using the platform of the London Book Fair to make a definitive stance on territorial copyright, with editors pushing hard for world rights deals or if need be, UK/Commonwealth with Canada excluded. “I think it’s a necessary trade-off,” said Picador publisher Andrew Kidd, who has just bought UK and Commonwealth excluding Canada rights for BREATH by Tim Winton. “Ultimately, having European exclusivity is about protecting our own territory–and that’s the most important thing.” But Association of Authors’ Agents president Clare Alexander said some publishers are not good at handling world rights. “It’s a simple ‘solution’ for publishers to control everything but it may not be the right answer,” she said, adding that a policy of exchanging Europe for Canada is “extremely insulting to the Canadians”.

Higher Royalties for Digital Downloads?

That’s what agents were after at the Association of Authors’ Agents‘ recent annual general meeting, as some members voicing disquiet at the perceived low level of royalties being offered by publishers for digital downloads of audiobooks, according to Publishing News. The agents’ argument runs along the lines that, compared to a CD, with its associated costs of packaging, warehousing and physical distribution, they would expect the cost to publishers of making available the content for download to be relatively inexpensive. At the moment, royalties of 10-15% are the norm in the UK, but agents want them as high as 40%. “If we agree a royalty at 10 or 15%, our authors will kill us later,” said one agent. “It’s very hard to renegotiate after a year.”

However, audiobook publishers have retaliated, pointing out that the recording costs are the same whatever the means of distribution, and there are many new and not immediately apparent costs in preparing and making recorded content available for digital download. “Whether it is being sold in the high street in a jewel case or downloaded, the cost of making a recording – the reader, the producer, studio hire etc – remain the same,” said Jo Forshaw, Chair of the Audio Publishing Association. “Then there are the additional costs in providing meta data for the ‘digital shelf’ – the digital files and jacket covers. Publishers already do this for physical audiobook product, but much more time-consuming administrative work is involved for digital product – including the ‘Gracenotes’, the world standard for digital data.”