Pearson’s move to ‘digital first’: Perspective from a key Pearson executive (Part II)

On July 24th, I had the opportunity to interview Paul Corey of Pearson by phone for about an hour regarding the recent announcement that Pearson will move to a digital first strategy for its textbook business. Paul is the Senior VP of Global Content Strategy for Pearson, and thus plays a key role in developing and implementing plans like the digital first strategy. Paul also has primary responsibility for Pearson’s relationships with authors, so I was especially appreciative of the chance to hear his thoughts on how the new direction might affect authors.*

To begin the second part of our dialogue I asked Paul whether Pearson’s intention is to continue selling “one textbook to one student for a particular course, whether in digital form or print or some combination…or do you expect to see more aggregate sales where a single student gets access to a large body of content.” [Read more…]

Pearson’s move to ‘digital first’: Perspective from a key Pearson executive (Part I)

On July 24th, I had the opportunity to interview Paul Corey of Pearson by phone for about an hour regarding the recent announcement that Pearson will move to a digital first strategy for its textbook business. Paul is the Senior VP of Global Content Strategy for Pearson, and thus plays a key role in developing and implementing plans like the digital first strategy. Paul also has primary responsibility for Pearson’s relationships with authors, so I was especially appreciative of the chance to hear his thoughts on how the new direction might affect authors.*

I started the conversation by asking Paul about the principal reason for Pearson to shift its focus to a digital-first strategy. He responded with three specific rationales for the move, not necessarily in order of importance: [Read more…]

Pearson’s ‘digital first’ announcement: A legal perspective

Interpreting, Adapting, and Amending Textbook Publishing Contracts in a Changing Publishing World

In announcing its new strategic commitment to digital courseware and its dramatic break from the traditional model of successive print editions of textbooks, Pearson addressed a letter “to our author community.” In the letter, Pearson emphasized its ties to “our authors and partners” and declared that “together we can provide updates, enhancements, and digital functionality to respond more quickly to changing customer expectations, demands, curricular shifts and developments in your field.”

One thing that Pearson did not address in its letter to its authors is how it proposed to interpret or change existing publishing contracts in order to be able to go forward in a “digital first” world. It’s what the contracts say that counts, and many of these contracts are very difficult to apply in the changing publishing world.   [Read more…]

The anatomy of a textbook contract

contract signingDuring her 2018 Textbook & Academic Authoring Conference presentation, “The Anatomy of a Textbook Contract”, intellectual property attorney Brenda Ulrich walked participants through a standard textbook publishing contract clause by clause to dissect and explain what the language means, what is significant, what to look for, what is worth trying to change and what is not.

Below are key points from the presentation covering the first four contract elements: grant or transfer of rights, manuscript preparation and delivery, acceptability of manuscript/acceptance, and failure to deliver. [Read more…]

Can my publisher really do that? Common author questions and answers from industry pros

textbooksAt TAA’s 2019 Textbook & Academic Authoring Conference, industry insider Sean Wakely and royalty auditor Juli Saitz addressed some common questions authors have about what prerogatives publishers have in respect to publication decisions, calculating royalty payments, marketing, and rights, with hypothetical examples from their point of view.

Here are the questions and answers from that session, divided into five parts: [Read more…]

Textbook publisher mergers and acquisitions: What authors need to know

mergers and acquisitionsIf you’ve been published (or simply signed, for that matter) by a US publisher in the last dozen years, there is a fair to excellent chance that the master to whom you are now answering is not the master to whom you indentured yourself when you signed your original publishing contract. Among the larger transactions: [Read more…]

Cengage authors begin to receive royalty statements under Cengage Unlimited plan

CU LetterWhile some Cengage authors are still waiting for their first royalty statements under the company’s new Cengage Unlimited plan, which, launched in August 2018, offers students access to its database of textbooks and other online content for a flat fee, several have received their statements and shared how the new plan has affected their royalties.

TAA President and Cengage author Mike Kennamer said royalties from CU were included on the most recent statement for one of his three Cengage titles. “The royalties generated from CU, for me, were insignificant and overall sales are down significantly,” he said. “I plan to reach out to Cengage’s Author Relations team to ask for help in interpreting my statement, which is less than clear.” More than three weeks later, he said, he is still waiting for a response. [Read more…]

Your royalties: The devil is in the details

Your Royalties: The Devil is in the DetailsAre you confused trying to determine how your royalty statement matches your publishing agreement? Do you feel like your royalty check is less than expected? According to Juli Saitz, CPA, Senior Managing Director, Ankura Consulting Group during her recent webinar, “the devil is in the details”.

To better understand how your royalties should be calculated, there are several items you may want to look for in your contract – beyond the basic royalty figures – including clauses on: electronic derivatives, subsidiary rights, custom work, packages, and tiering. [Read more…]

How might the McGraw-Hill and Cengage merger affect authors?

Are you wondering what the recently announced merger between textbook giants McGraw-Hill and Cengage could mean for authors? Join publishing attorney Steve Gillen and textbook author and Monroe College professor Karen Morris for their session at TAA’s 32nd Annual Conference entitled: “Mergers and Acquisitions Among Publishers: Authors Need a Life Jacket.”

Gillen and Morris will discuss the recent history of consolidation in educational publishing. How does it impact an author’s career? What can you do to prepare for the possibility? What should you do if it happens to you? What options exist if new relationships don’t go well? Get answers to these and related questions, and ideas on how to survive well. [Read more…]

Reflections on negotiating a contract 4: Royalties

NegotiationMy previous posts have been concerned with the large number of different issues in my contract as well as the general question of what ability I had to negotiate/renegotiate with my publisher who has a ton of leverage compared to me, a relative unknown. This post follows that basic theme, but looks specifically at the question of royalties.

One of the first things I’ll mention is the variety of different royalty clauses. To start, there were the basic book formats: hardback, paperback, and e-book. Following these were another dozen or so clauses, split into “rights and royalties” and “subsidiary rights and royalties,” which included things like international rights, audio and video rights, book club uses, use of excerpts and more.  [Read more…]