Some consternation this morning about budding GN publisher Simon & Schuster and their new rights policy which would seem to indicate ownership in perpetua. PW’s Jim Milliot has more:

In a prepared statement sent out by S&S yesterday afternoon, S&S spokesperson Adam Rothberg said the company was surprised by the guild’s “overreaction,” and he gave the following explanation of S&S’s position:

“We believe that our contract appropriately addresses the improved technology, increased availability, and higher quality of print on demand books, and reflects the fact that print on demand titles may now be readily purchased by consumers at both online and brick and mortar stores. We are embracing print on demand technology as an unprecedented opportunity for authors and publishers to keep their books alive and available and selling in the marketplace in a way that may not have been previously possible for many authors, and are confident in the long term that it will be a benefit for all concerned. We would also like the author and agent community to know that, when necessary, we have always had good faith negotiations on the subject of reversions, and will continue to on a book-by-book basis.”

In its alert, the guild emphasized these points: (1) if an author signs the new contract, S&S “will say you’re wed to them. Your book will live and die with this particular conglomerate”; (2) authors are advised to explore other options, since no other publisher is seeking the irrevocable grant of rights that S&S is; and (3) if a book is being auctioned, S&S should be excluded from the proceedings unless it agrees to use standard terms.


  1. I actually agree with S&S at being surprised at the knee-jerk reaction to this…

    This seems like a simple (almost standard) addition to S&S’s contract that is almost becoming commonplace in the book trade. Numerous houses have (or considered/will have) similar language, not only in regards to POD books, but similar online distribution or “e-books”. This is a downside to those technologies in that a book can technically be considered “in print” if it is offered thru those channels… Obviously it is not a favorable point of view.

    The lesson to be learned from this is not that S&S (or anyone else) who has these sort of policies in their boilerplate contracts is a necessarily bad company to do business with. The lesson is that (as learned through numerous posting on this blog, most recently Dave Roman’s situation) creators can’t go into situations with giant corporate entities (or even some smaller companies) without some sort of representation, be it an agent, intellectual property attorney, successful business savvy friend, etc.

    These sort of situations (as S&S points out) can still be negotiated out of the contract by someone who knows what they are doing.

    Comic creators have finally gotten to the big stage of working with the “majors” and it is refreshing to see the creators who realize that most successful authors have representation for a reason (which is obviously to get the best position possible in their contract negotiations). It is a different world, filled with real legal pitfalls (and of course the chance for “real” money and major recognition on a scale that small press simply can’t compete with) that you don’t encounter simply doing a handshake deal with a Top Shelf, D&Q or Fantagraphics.