The Science Fiction and Fantasy Writers of America Supports Authors' Guild Position on Simon & Schuster's Rights Grab
The Science Fiction and Fantasy Writers of America, Inc., joins with the Authors Guild in decrying Simon & Schuster's recent decision to shift book titles that have reached the end of their shelf-lives into a Print-on-Demand program, instead of reverting rights to those titles to their authors. Simon & Schuster's decision expands upon an already-developing trend to use technologies, not to the benefit of authors, but as a way to seize rights that writers have traditionally taken for granted.
One of the most fundamental rights of book authors is the right to reclaim or "revert" licensed publishing rights when a book is no longer available through normal outlets of distribution or when it is selling only minimal copies. Traditionally, authors have retained their copyrights, licensing only certain specific rights to the publisher. Once the publisher has given up on the book, stopped promoting it, and is no longer able to bring about a minimum number of sales, the author could regain those rights and re-sell them to another publisher, one that might give the work a new chance with new promotion and renewed sales.
Most books sell best during a brief period when their publishers actively market them, but when that promotion stops, the average book's sales rapidly begin to decline. Currently, the author can choose either to let the book languish with its current publisher or revert the rights and try to resell them to another publisher who will actively market it.
Simon & Schuster wants to change the rules with new contract language that would empower them to keep control of a book for the entire length of its copyright, printing individual copies only when order requests are made with no motivation at all to boost sales with further marketing or promotion.
This decision by Simon & Schuster constitutes a massive rights grab and is an attempt to take advantage of authors. The members of the Science Fiction and Fantasy Writers of America, Inc. stand with the Author's Guild in this matter. We encourage other writers and artists groups to do so, as well, and we urge Simon & Schuster to rescind this pernicious policy.
Robin Wayne Bailey
And Past Presidents of SFWA, including:
The brou-ha-ha seems to be bearing early fruit: Already Simon & Schuster seem to be backtracking from their initial rights grab.