Royalties: Past, Present, and Future

Royalties PresentationWhat does the word “royalty” mean to you as an author? In their presentation, “Royalties: Past, Present, and Future” at the 31stAnnual Textbook & Academic Authoring Conference, royalty auditor Juli Saitz of Ankura Consulting Group, and veteran publishing insider Sean Wakely of FlatWorld, discussed the history and anticipated future of textbook author royalties.

In a traditional author-publisher relationship, the publisher is providing financial capital and the author is providing human capital for the development and publication of a book. The negotiation of royalty payments from the sales of the book determines how the profit from such sales is divided. Consequently, the royalty model represents a shared risk between author and publisher and also a shared reward – especially when a title is successful. [Read more…]

Reviewing your author contract: Planning for the future

The life cycle of a successful textbook reaches well past the life of its author, given that copyright law currently extends rights in a work to the life of the author + 70 years. That means not just your children, but even your grandchildren may benefit from the fruits of your labors. At the same time, for books—and in particular textbooks—governed by publishing contracts, it is important for both you and your heirs to understand your, and by extension their, rights and responsibilities.

The first step is to pull out your publishing contract. If it is a typical royalty-bearing contract, then you likely have rights in every revision in which you participate. [Read more…]

College textbook publishing: Royalties, risk, and reward

High books stack with open book isolated on white background. Many colorful book covers.College textbook authors are motivated to write for many reasons. Some write with the goal of providing the optimum textbook for their students. Others are excited to share their approach to teaching a subject, or they simply enjoy the experience of translating research into practice. And, in some cases, the primary motive is to generate income.

Regardless of their motives, every textbook author must grapple with the same question: How can I achieve the best return on the time I spend writing a textbook, and how much risk should I accept in exchange for my sweat equity? To this end, there are several considerations authors should keep in mind regarding royalties as they negotiate a publishing agreement. [Read more…]

Will Cengage’s rising tide lift all boats?

Subscription models for reading materials are not unheard of in other industries, but they are a new model emerging within the higher education publishing industry. Late last year, Cengage announced Cengage Unlimited, a subscription based model offering access to its entire catalog of textbooks and related learning materials to college students for a flat price of $119.95 per semester calls Cengage Unlimited. Royalty structures under these models vary. Newer contracts provide broad leeway for publishers to allocate royalties on in a way they deem reasonable.

While boon to students, especially those assigned multiple Cengage texts, it has left Cengage authors wondering about the impact to their royalty earnings. [Read more…]

How to incorporate accessibility throughout the publishing process

Digital AccessibilityIn his recent webinar, “Making Textbooks Accessible to Students With Disabilities”, Robert Martinengo, Publisher Outreach Specialist for the CAMI project at AMAC Accessibility, said that the issue of accessibility is even more important when it comes to digital products.

“The ability to navigate through a digital textbook is a critical component of accessibility,” he said. “Navigation is enabled by consistent and rational use of tags throughout the text.”

In addition to effective navigation, accessible manuscripts should also include these four elements, said Martinengo: [Read more…]

5 Hopeful changes in the publishing industry in 2018

changeRecently we asked several TAA members the question, “What changes are you hoping to see within the publishing industry this year?” Five key changes were identified: improvements in self-publishing, technology-driven innovations, better peer-review processes, increases in open access publishing, and a new era of transparency in publisher-author communication. [Read more…]

Paper or digital? How to decide the format for your monograph or book

Paper or e-book?A question continues in some stores, “Paper or plastic?” While recyclable bags may make this a thing of the past, other questions continue. Authors continue to ponder whether their book should be a paper copy or an eBook. While this is an important discussion, it should not cause deep thinking.

The obvious answer is both. If a publisher is wise, it will offer a book or monograph in both formats. This is a smart consumer-centric option. Let the buyer decide which they prefer. Let’s discuss, though, each format to see where the market is and the virtues of each one. [Read more…]

Authors Knox and Schacht file lawsuit against Cengage, claiming company has ‘trampled on its authors’ rights’

Textbook StackCengage authors David Knox and Caroline Schacht filed a class action lawsuit in the U.S. District Court for the Southern District of New York on May 14 against Cengage claiming the company’s emphasis on digital distribution, including its new Cengage Unlimited model and expanded digital courseware offerings, have violated their publishing agreements. The suit also claims that the company is refusing to provide information that would allow them to audit their royalty payments.

According to the complaint, Cengage’s plan to overhaul its business model after emerging from bankruptcy in 2014, “has trampled on its authors’ rights”. The suit alleges that Cengage’s new Cengage Unlimited business model has the company “dismantling its support” for individual title sales in favor of selling subscriptions to Cengage Unlimited, which plaintiffs say violates their contracts and will reduce the amount of royalties they will earn, while allowing Cengage to retain a larger share of revenue. [Read more…]

2018 Textbook award-winning insight (Part 2): Boosting writing confidence, scheduling writing time, software

2017 TAA Textbook AwardsWe recently reached out to winners of the 2018 TAA Textbook Awards and asked them to answer some questions about their textbook writing. We will be sharing their answers in a series of posts over the next few weeks. The first installment focused on why they decided to write their textbook and how they got started.

This second installment in the four-part series focuses on how they boost their confidence as a writer, how they fit writing time into their schedule, and what software they use. [Read more…]

Cengage, McGraw-Hill, Pearson, Wiley win $34.2m willful trademark and copyright infringement suit

Don't buy counterfeit textbooksCengage, McGraw-Hill Education, Pearson, and Wiley won a $34.2 million verdict in the U.S. District Court for the Southern District of New York against a group of online booksellers and their owner for dealing in counterfeit textbooks.

The nine-person jury unanimously found the defendants — several Ohio-based bookselling companies, including Book Dog Books and Robert William Management, and their owner, Philip Smyres — liable for willful trademark infringement, willful copyright infringement, and breach of a prior settlement agreement. [Read more…]