TAA announces results of 2022 Textbook Contracts & Royalties Survey

A recent survey conducted by the Textbook & Academic Authors Association (TAA) found that nearly 30 percent of respondents agreed to allow their royalty rates to be changed. Nearly 40 percent of respondents have been asked by their publishers to sign new contracts, and two-thirds of those have complied.

Stephen Gillen, an attorney with Wood Herron & Evans (Cincinnati, OH), estimates most of those authors did not know they did not have to agree to that royalty rate change, and most of the new contracts were almost certainly more favorable to the publishers than the ones they were replacing. “My guess is that the respondents did not appreciate the differences and did not fully understand that they did not have to agree to the new contracts,” he says.

TAA’s goal with this survey is that the results, combined with tracking data from the 2015 and 2020 Textbook Contracts & Royalties Surveys, will help authors 1) negotiate better contracts; 2) negotiate higher royalty rates for print and digital products; 3) to seek professional advice when negotiating contracts and when they want to better understand their royalty statements.

Class action complaint filed against Cengage alleging unfair, deceptive royalty-reporting practices

A class action lawsuit was filed today in the United States District Court for the District of Massachusetts against Cengage, one of the leading publishers of educational textbooks, alleging that its unfair and deceptive royalty-reporting practices violate Massachusetts’ Consumer Protection Law.

The lawsuit, filed by Slarskey LLC and Casner & Edwards LLP on behalf of art history author Fred Kleiner and similarly-situated individuals, alleges that Cengage’s practices are designed to conceal that Cengage systematically underpays royalties due to authors in the range of 10-30 percent. 

Five chances to reset the terms of your book contract (part 2)

In Part 1 of this article (published in the summer edition of the TAA newsletter), we wrote about the imbalance in negotiating leverage between an author and his/her publisher early in the author’s publishing career. And we noted that there would be opportunities later for an author to retake some of the ground lost in those early negotiations. In particular, we wrote about two of these opportunities:

1) Your publisher calls for work to begin on a new edition and sends an amendment to your contract to memorialize this . . . with a few additional “updates”.

Five chances to reset the terms of your book contract (Part 1)

If you published the first edition of your textbook ten or more years ago, you may find yourself occasionally muttering to yourself, “I wish I kew then what I know now.”

Why is that?

Historically, the publishers start the book contract negotiation game with all the cards…backs to you. You have one card…it’s face up. And it tells everybody, “I’m new at this but I’m excited. Just tell me where to sign.”

Publishers have generally been the gatekeeper to a published book. While this may be less true now, with self-publishing and Open Educational Resources (OER), the publishers still have the most established distribution channels self-publishers cannot begin to match.

4/5 TAA Webinar, “Your Textbook Isn’t Being Revised. Now What?”

As publishing companies look to manage costs and focus on large introductory courses, many high-quality and high-value textbooks are not being revised.

Join us Monday, April 5, from 11 a.m. to 12 p.m. ET for the TAA Webinar, “Your Textbook Isn’t Being Revised. Now What?”, when Donna Battista, VP of Content Strategy at Top Hat, and previous Pearson Executive, will help authors navigate this increasingly common challenge. She’ll provide guidance on requesting rights back, what to do when rights are reverted, and what options there are to make content available.

McGraw-Hill textbook authors file class action lawsuit against publisher

Three authors filed a complaint in U.S. district court asserting that McGraw Hill is in breach of contract for a recent change to royalty calculations for products sold on its Connect digital platform. The complaint, Flynn v. McGraw Hill LLC, 21-cv-00614, U.S. District Court, Southern District of New York (Manhattan), was filed on January 22 by Sean Flynn, Associate Professor of Economics, Scripps College; co-author of Economics: Principles, Problems, and Policies. (Now in 22nd edition.), Dean Kardan, Prof Economics and Finance, Kellogg School of Management, Northwestern U; co-author three textbooks: Economics, Microeconomics, and Macroeconomics, and Jonathan Morduch Professor of Public Policy and Economics at Wagner Graduate School of Public Service in NYU, co-author with Dean Kardan of the above three books.