Authors Reject “Forever” Contracts

Andrew AlbaneseTrue love, if you’re lucky enough to find it, lasts forever. So do diamonds, and even some tattoos. And for trade book authors, there are the contracts they sign with publishers.

Earlier this week, the Authors Guild released the fourth installment of its Fair Contract Initiative, “A Publishing Contract Should Not Be Forever.” Typical book contracts, notes the AG, require authors to transfer rights for the duration of copyright – in the United States, a term that runs for the author’s lifetime plus 70 years

“The Guild post notes that a publisher may go bankrupt or be bought by a conglomerate; the editors who championed the author may go on to other companies; the sales force may fail to establish the title in the marketplace and ignore it thereafter; but no matter how badly the publisher mishandles the book, the author’s agreement with the original publisher is likely to remain in effect for many decades – essentially forever,” Andrew Albanese, Publishers Weekly senior writer, explains.

“I think that if authors look around, there are quite a few indie publishers that would readily agree to the less restrictive terms the Guild is proposing,” Albanese tells CCC’s Chris Kenneally.

Every Friday, CCC’s “Beyond the Book” speaks with the editors and reporters of “Publishers Weekly” for an early look at the news that publishers, editors, authors, agents and librarians will be talking about when they return to work on Monday.

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