Your textbook isn’t being revised. Now what?

Just askIf your standard textbook revision cycle has come and gone, it doesn’t automatically mean that you aren’t being revised, and you can’t expect that your publisher will reach out to you either, so you’ll need to ask, says Donna Battista, vice president of content strategy for Top Hat.

“Get in touch with your publisher and just ask directly,” she says. “I think it’s always good practice to start from the perspective that everybody is going to work in good faith. Nobody wants to squat on your rights.”

Start with reviewing the revision clause in your contract to see what your options are, but if the publisher doesn’t plan for a new edition and you want to ask for your rights back it’s always best to ask for as much as possible, says Battista. “Know what you want to ask for, and then have an expectation that there are only certain things that they are required to release to you,” she says. The rights that will be returned to you are your intellectual property rights, or your content. [Read more…]

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

Donna BattistaAs 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?”, where 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. [Read more…]

McGraw-Hill textbook authors file class action lawsuit against publisher

Class action lawsuit 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. [Read more…]

Acronym Scrabble: Understanding your royalty statements

Milan, Italy - July 2, 2013: Scrabble is an Italian variant of the famous board game Scrabble, published in the late fifties by Aldo Pasetti and then by Editrice Giochi.Publishers love acronyms. They take up less space in their software programs and they are convenient to use in daily conversations. Royalty statements are not easy to interpret. When publishers use abbreviations, it can add to the already confusing task of understanding your statements.  To help authors better understand and navigate their statements, here we outline some of the most common abbreviations and terminology.

“ISBN” – International Standard Book Number.  You use this every day, but you may not have known for what it stands.  These numbers are purchased from the Library of Congress.  Any product sold by someone other than directly from the publisher must have an ISBN. [Read more…]

What you need to know about ‘cross-collateralization’

Magnifying Glass Over Papers and Word "Contract"in FocusIt has an intimidating name. Indeed, it takes more letters to spell it than to put it into effect. But what is it and why is it bad for authors?

Most every book publishing contract will include a provision that obligates the publisher to periodically account to the author for the publisher’s sales of the author’s work. The language will probably look something like this:

Payments to the Authors will be made semiannually, on or before the last day of March and September of each year for royalties due for the preceding half-year ending the last day of December and June, respectively. If the balance due an Author for any royalty period is less than $50, no payment will be due until the next royalty period at the end of which the cumulative balance has reached $50. Any offsets (including but not limited to any advances or grant) against royalties or sums owed by an Author to the Publisher under this or any other agreement between the Author and the Publisher may be deducted from any payments due the Author under this or any other agreement between the Author and the Publisher. [Read more…]

Authors’ suit against Cengage hits snags

In October 2019, six authors, intending to form a class action together with other Cengage authors, filed a lawsuit against Cengage alleging that Cengage’s royalty accounting for proceeds from distribution of their products through the MindTap and Cengage Unlimited business models breached the publisher’s royalty arrangements with authors. In addition to the breach of contract claim, the authors alleged that Cengage acted in bad faith towards authors regarding the two products. Before a trial could get underway, Cengage responded by asking for all counts to be dismissed, and that the attempt to form a class action be denied. [Read more…]

Copyright, Covid, and the Virtual Classroom

CopyrightWith the fall semester fast approaching, faculty are intensively preparing for the 2020-2021 academic year, in the face of continually changing information and circumstances. A number of our higher education clients have had questions about copyright issues relating to the transition of traditional in-person classes to online or hybrid formats. We have also been reviewing software agreements for various services that allow institutions to shift more of their offerings online. Here we discuss four common issues we have encountered. Although the answers are seldom black-and-white, we thought it would be useful to share some of the questions and possible approaches to them:

1) When can copyrighted third-party materials (including text, photographs, video, and music) be used without permission or licenses in online teaching activities? Can college libraries scan and provide digital access to print reserve materials? [Read more…]

Ask the Expert: What to look for in publisher-driven ‘new’ textbook contracts

Gillen book covers

Steve Gillen has authored three books with TAA on the topics of textbook authoring, publishing, contracts, and rights clearance and permissions.

Q: I’m a published author. I signed a textbook contract with a publisher 32 years ago and the first edition of my text was published 30 years ago. It’s since been revised 9 times, all under the original contract, and is due to be revised again soon. Recently, my publisher wrote and said they wanted to sign a new contract for the new edition because the industry had changed, their business model had changed, and the old contract was no longer in step with their current practices. Should I go along with this and sign the new contract?

A: Maybe. . . but not without doing a little homework first. Your original contract almost certainly contemplated that your text, if successful, would need periodically to be revised. What it probably said about this was that “if and when” the publisher thought a revision was warranted, the publisher would call upon you to prepare it. And if you were willing and able to do that, the revision would be prepared and published under the terms of your then existing agreement as if it were the work being published for the first time. [Read more…]

2020 Textbook award-winning insight (Part 3): Contracts, editing, and marketing

Textbook AwardsWe recently reached out to winners of the 2020 TAA Textbook Awards and asked them to answer some questions about why they made the decision to write their textbook, strategies they used for successful writing, advice on contracts, editing, marketing, co-authoring, and more. We will be sharing their answers in a series of posts over the next few weeks.

This third installment of the five-part series focuses on textbook contracts, working with editors, and marketing strategies. [Read more…]

2020 Textbook award-winning insight (Part 1): Purpose, timeline, and results

TAA Textbook AwardsWe recently reached out to winners of the 2020 TAA Textbook Awards and asked them to answer some questions about why they made the decision to write their textbook, strategies they used for successful writing, advice on contracts, editing, marketing, co-authoring, and more. We will be sharing their answers in a series of posts over the next few weeks.

This first installment of the five-part series focuses on why the authors decided to write their textbook, how long it took to complete the process, and the benefits and challenges of doing so. [Read more…]