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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:
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.”
During 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.
At 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:
If 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: