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Never, ever "out of print"

How POD and ebooks make traditional contract models irrelevant.

I recently sat down with transactional and intellectual property attorney Dana Newman (@DanaNewman) to talk about today’s rights concerns for authors and how publishing models need to change to accommodate digital. We also discussed how books can no longer go out of “print” and how that could — and should — affect rights and contracts:

“Under older, more traditional contracts, the rights would revert when [a book] went out of print, meaning it was no longer being distributed in print form. Now, with print on demand and ebooks, it’s becoming irrelevant. I think what we need to do is create a new structure for those rights to revert back to the author — that could be based on some sort of minimum sales threshold and that the book is no longer available through the major online retail channels. That would make more sense. On the other side for the publisher, they could think about setting a term where once the advance is earned out, then perhaps at that point they would revert the rights back to the author.” (Discussed at 4:33.)

Newman also talked about the need for flexibility, shorter license terms and rights of first refusal in creating a new publishing model that is more equitable for both authors and publishers. (Discussed at 2:13.)

You can view the entire interview in the following video:

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  • http://penumbrapublishing.com Penumbra Publishing

    Why don’t publishers just put a term limit in their contracts. When time’s up, rights revert. Or a combo of time vs. earned advance. Problem solved.