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Salinger Estate, Swedish Author End Lawsuit Over "Catcher in the Rye" Sequel

Galley Cat reports that the estate of J. D. Salinger, the famously reclusive author of The Catcher in the Rye who died last January, has settled its lawsuit against Swedish author and publisher Fredrik Colting over the right to publish a satirical and “unauthorized” sequel entitled 60 Years Later: Coming Through the Rye.

Colting is not permitted to publish or distributed the book in any form in the United States or Canada until Catcher enters the public domain. Colting is permitted to publish the book in other international territories, though.

The settlement also prohibits Colting from using “Coming Through the Rye” in the title and also bars him from discussing Salinger, The Catcher in the Rye, or his legal battles.

For some background, in Salinger’s lawsuit against Colting, the United States District Court  for the Southern District of New York granted Salinger’s motion for a preliminary injunction against Colting’s publication of his sequel and held that it was not a parody of the original and therefore not a fair use protected by copyright law. Salinger v. Colting, 641 F.Supp.2d 250 (S.D.N.Y. 2009).

But Colting appealed to the United States Court of Appeals for the Second Circuit, which held  last year that the district court had misapplied the standard for the issuance of a preliminary injunction against Colting. However, the Second Circuit agreed with the district court that Salinger was likely to prevail in his copyright infringement claim and that as a result, Colting would be unlikely to prevail on his fair use defense. Salinger v. Colting, 607 F.3d 68 (2nd Cir. 2010).

Here is Publisher Weekly‘s version of the parties’ dispute, which has a few more details than Galley Cat’s. As reflected by Colting’s quote, the settlement  — which is confidential — ends the litigation between the parties.

BTW, neither your eyes nor your computer screen is playing tricks on you. I’ve been reading, and enjoying, Typography for Lawyers by Matthew Butterick, and decided to try some of his suggestions for a more appealing visual presentation, including adjusting the font color.


E-Books, E-Readers Create New Markets for Romances and Illustrated Books

Two articles by Julie Bosman, who covers book publishing for The New York Times, describe the opportunities created by the popularity of e-books and e-readers. In her article last Thursday, she noted that romance e-books have become particularly popular, in part because an e-book doesn’t have a cover that may embarrass the reader in a check-out line or a Starbucks. 

According to Bosman, 

If the e-reader is the digital equivalent of the brown-paper wrapper, the romance reader is a little like the Asian carp: insatiable and unstoppable. Together, it turns out, they are a perfect couple. Romance is now the fastest-growing segment of the e-reading market, ahead of general fiction, mystery and science fiction, according to data from Bowker, a research organization for the publishing industry.

The article also explains that downloads of romance e-books are “cannibalizing” sales of print editions, but publishers such as Random House  and Harlequin are attempting to capitalize on e-book sales by converting  their romance backlists into digital formats. 

In Bosman’s other article, published today, she reported that color e-readers  have created new markets for illustrated books, such as children’s books, cookbooks, and photography books. The illustrations and pictures in those books don’t tend to reproduce well with black and white e-readers, but do much better with high-resolution color readers like the iPad and the Nook Color

The final paragraph in the article grabbed my attention, though:

Some publishers have also had success breaking into the digital space by turning books into applications for mobile devices. Disney Publishing says it has reached one million downloads of its book apps, featuring Winnie the Pooh, Disney princesses and characters from “Toy Story.”

Among Disney’s  iPad downloads are the Winnie the Pooh Puzzle Book and Mickey’s Spooky Night Puzzle Book, both of which are $.99 each. So in addition to offering the book, in both print and electronic formats an enterprising publisher can create an application that ties in to the book and provides a lucrative additional source of revenue.

Guest Blogging at Lady Scribes

I’m guest blogging today at Lady Scribes. Come visit and ask a question or leave a comment. See you there!

My Interview at Mysteries & Margaritas About Contract Negotiations

My sincere thanks to Liz Lipperman at Mysteries & Margaritas for interviewing me yesterday, and to everyone who commented and/or asked questions. I will be answering the comments and questions throughout the weekend.

Liz asked very insightful questions about publishing contracts generally, as well as about specific provisions that authors need to pay attention to.

I’ll repeat here when I said in answer to several — if not most — of Liz’s questions, which is that as an author, you should have an agent or an attorney represent you in negotiations. If you are unrepresented, you will be trying to negotiate a contract drafted by the publisher, and you will be dealing with an editor (or even a lawyer) who likely has negotiated many contracts and therefore is far more familiar than you with the process. And if you are unrepresented, you have no leverage to speak of in dealing with the publisher. And the publisher knows it and will take advantage of it — and you.

Guest Blogging at Mysteries & Margaritas

On Friday, October 15, I will be the guest blogger at Mysteries & Margaritas. Come over and ask a question or leave a comment. See you there!

Would Authors Pay Royalties to Publishers?

Bob Mayer, who publishes the Write It Forward blog and just started a publishing venture called Who Dares Wins Publishing, has an interesting suggestions for publishers in this post: reverse royalties. 

Mayer suggests that authors pay royalties to publishers in place of the customary arrangement. I know it sounds counterintuitive (to say nothing of counterproductive) that an author pay royalties to a publisher rather than receive them, but here is his explanation:

When does a book go out of print if it is made available in eBook [format]? Many contracts, particularly those pre-dating the eBook explosion, are not clear on this point. Some clauses state if sales fall below some ridiculously low number, like less than 100 sold on the last two royalty statements. That means a publisher can keep rights to a book if it sells just 100 copies in  a year.

That does neither the publisher, nor the author, much good. It is actually an inducement for authors to NOT promote their books, hoping sales fall low enough to get the rights back. To make the effort to promote a book at 25%-75% for eBooks is not that thrilling. And for any book that has not earned out, there is zero incentive.

His proposal is that if an author received the rights to the book and the cover (if available) and an electronic version, a 25% royalty to the publisher would ensure that the relationship between author and publisher is more profitable for both sides than is now the case.

Mayer illustrates his proposal with examples of his own experiences with Random House — where he has a print series that is available in electronic format, but doesn’t sell enough to entice Random House to do any publicity, thus creating the zero incentive situation he described — and Berkeley — where he obtained the rights to another series that had gone out of print, and which he now sells in electronic format with more sales in one month than he has with the Random House series (in electronic format) in a year.

By the way, in his post, Mayer recommends a few blogs, including J. A. Konrath’s, A Newbie’s Guide to Publishing, where Konrath frequently discusses the economics of book publishing, such as in this post. Konrath’s success with ebooks makes him worth reading.

Although Mayer’s idea is straightforward, my guess is that publishers’ fear that the arrangement would benefit authors too much means that publishers have to reject it (the publishing world’s equivalent of cutting off your nose to spite your face). But authors, tell me what you think of Mayer’s “modest proposal.”




Publishers Try Bundling Print and E-Books

This New York Times story entitled “Of Two Minds About Books” is ostensibly about different reading formats, but it illustrates the dilemma that many publishers, and thus many authors, are facing.

According to the article by Matt Richtel and Claire Cain Miller, 10.3 million people will own e-readers this year, compared with 3.7 million last year, and they will buy 100 million e-books, compared with 30 million last year. 

In order to satisfy both types of consumers — those who want their books in an electronic format and those who prefer the traditional version — some publishers and booksellers are bundling print books and e-books at a discount. For example, religious book publisher Thomas Nelson (whose chairman and CEO Michael Hyatt has a blog that I highly recommend and that is included on the blogroll at left) has started to offer free e-books with with a print book for some titles. 

And here is the dilemma I referred to in the first paragraph:

This straddle-the-line marketing underscores a deeper tension: the desire to keep the print business alive so as not to alienate a core market, while establishing a base for a future that publishers see as increasingly digital, said James L. McQuivey, an e-reader industry analyst with Forrester [Research].

I think the bundling approach will be increasingly popular, at least for the foreseeable future, because it satisfies both the print and electronic constituencies. But as newer and better e-readers appear on the market, e-book sales look to increase exponentially.