Should you receive royalties on derivative products?

Q: “Should I receive royalties on products such as Vango Notes and other derivative products?”

“I have a business textbook with Pearson/Prentice-Hall. I picked Pearson for this book because I really like the level of development they invest in new projects, and now that we are in the second edition, the book is doing reasonably well. With the second edition Pearson also launched a VangoNotes version of our book. This is how the Vango site describes them:

‘VangoNotes are exclusively for Pearson Education textbooks. Some VangoNotes subject texts may still be helpful, so browse by subject at Alternatively, your professor may be able to recommend a Pearson textbook that will be relevant for your class.’

I’ve listened to the material on my book and it could be a substitute for it (though in brief), and the quote above clearly suggests that Pearson/Vango view the resources as interchangeable. I don’t receive royalties on VangoNotes, even though it is essentially a summary version of the book, by chapter. Does anyone have some guidance for me as to what steps I should/could take to remedy this? I have talked with another Pearson author who has the same experience and concern. I also have experience with another publisher, Flat World Knowledge, which pays me a royalty on all derivative products related to my book, even study aids. My sense is that this is coming from the legal side of Pearson, not the editorial side, and I like working with my current editor.”

A: Paul Rosenzweig, (ca) RRS, Inc.,

“Pearson markets Vango Notes for their college and professional lines, but I haven’t seen any royalties generated for Vango Notes through 2007 (most recent year for which PE has provided documentation on current audits).”

A: Marilyn Fordney:

“I found a website that was selling a study guide using the name of the textbook I author. I contacted the company and discovered they do not pay royalties. I ordered a copy of the study guide. I discovered it would be of no value to someone using my textbook because the content did not match what was in the textbook’s chapters. It was a complete ripoff to the student. This study guide was similar to what you call ‘Notes.'”

A: Ric Martini:

“A brief note regarding hardcopy, CD, or online derivative works:

If your contract does not grant the rights for electronic versions of your text (and stipulate the royalties due) you, and not the publisher, have the electronic rights.

If your contract grants electronic rights without compensation, but has a ‘derivative works’ clause, then at least you could at least demand to be paid the derivative rate (often 5%) for a derivative product in any market.

Supplements to the text are a different matter. If they just reference the text or use snippets, there’s no basis for you to get paid. If a supplement contains substantive blocks of material from your book, you should be paid permissions fees. If the ‘supplement’ is essentially an adaptation of the text, as in the case of VN, either the standard royalty rate or the ‘derivative works’ or ‘adaptations’ royalty rates should apply. I haven’t seen the VN for my books, so I can’t make that decision as yet.”