Cengage 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 15 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.
Cengage says authors cannot opt out of Cengage Unlimited
In a recent post on the Cengage blog, Erin Joyner, the company’s senior vice president of product, said that authors cannot opt out of Cengage Unlimited. However, industry experts say Cengage cannot make this sweeping statement.
“The large majority of publishing agreements do not contemplate the Cengage Unlimited model of distribution,” said David Slarskey, a litigator with Slarskey LLC. “Refusing author demands to opt-out tends to undermine the terms of the contract.”
2018 Textbook award-winning insight (Part 1): Deciding to write and getting the interest of a publisher
We recently reached out to winners of the 2018 TAA Textbook Awards and asked them to answer some questions about how they made the decision to write their textbook, how they interested a publisher, what they do to boost their writing confidence, how they fit writing time into their schedule, and more. We will be sharing their answers in a series of posts over the next few weeks.
This first installment of the four-part series focuses on why they decided to write their textbook, and how they got the interest of a publisher.
Executive Director’s Message: Developing sustainable textbook business models
Textbooks have a very different challenge from journals in converting to online businesses. First, readers have not embraced longer works online quite as enthusiastically as they adopted shorter journal articles. Print continues to have strong appeal as a reading format.
Another critical barrier to developing sustainable online textbook business models is working out the complexities of author royalties.
Cengage promises more details about how royalties will be calculated on Cengage Unlimited subscriptions by March
In a January 25 email to its authors, Cengage said that it will have more detailed information about how royalties will be calculated on Cengage Unlimited subscriptions by March. “With the introduction of Cengage Unlimited, we know authors are keenly interested in how royalties will be calculated,” the email stated. “To answer that question, we are currently building out the Cengage Unlimited platform and assessing financial and royalty systems to enhance our ability to track student access.”
Cengage ‘will honor all contractual obligations’ with authors under Unlimited model
Cengage’s Chief Product Officer Fernando Bleichmar said the company will continue to honor its contractual obligations with authors under the Cengage Unlimited model, but that the contract they have with authors generally grants them the discretion to publish the work in the way they think best helps drive the sales of those titles.
“We have spent significant time with our internal teams making sure the contracts allow us to do the Unlimited model,” he said. “The contracts are established in a way in which the publishers have the discretion of evolving the model that benefits both the authors and the publisher, and our contracts allow the creation of different models. We are going through all the details in the contracts, having those conversations with our authors to make sure they are comfortable with the Unlimited model as we move forward.”