ContractsProf Blog

Editor: Myanna Dellinger
University of South Dakota School of Law

Friday, May 18, 2007

Books Now Never Go Out of Print

Tekjansenposter2 This is news to me, but apparently, before there was the internet, people got information from things called books.  I gather they are like those other outmoded, non-interactive technologies, television and radio, only more boring.

Except, of course, for Stephen Colbert's Alpha Squad 7: Lady Nocturne, A Tek Jansen Adventure.  At left you can see one of many proposed covers for this epic, which for some reason has yet to find its publisher.  Buck up, Stephen, James Joyce had a hard time too! 

Anyhew, according to the New York Times, book contracts used to have a standard term that provided protection to authors should the book go out-of-print.  Under the old standard-form contract, when a book went out-of-print, the author had the right to request a return of rights in the book so that the author could try to interest a different publisher in a new edition.  A book was deemed out-of-print if either: it was no longer available in either hardback or paperback, or if annual sales fell below a certain threshold.

That is no longer the case.  Print-on-demand technology means that books now never go out of print and at least some publishers are therefore less willing to relinquish rights than they used to be.

[Jeremy Telman]

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