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Showing posts from November, 2008

Auditing Your Publisher

By Richard Curtis

Most book publishers' contracts have provisions granting authors the right to examine the books and records of their publishers under certain conditions: for example, the examination must take place on the premises of the publisher during normal business hours; no more than two audits may be conducted in any given year; an audit must be commenced within a reasonable time after the issuance of the royalty statement in question; the records on any given book shall not be examined more than once; the publisher is not required to keep records on a book for more than a certain period of time, etc.

Examinations of publishers' accounts are not a daily phenomenon and when they do occur, they are invariably conducted by authors with lucrative contracts. But the vast majority of authors has only the vaguest notion of what is involved in an audit. Perhaps we can rectify that problem here.

Harder to rectify is the somewhat bovine attitude on the part of many authors that th…

All About Book Clubs

By Richard Curtis
Book clubs are such solid fixtures in the lives of authors, agents, and publishers that we take them for granted, like enormous monuments that we no longer notice on our way to work every day. How impoverished our literary environmen
t would be without book clubs can easily be grasped when you realize that millions of Americans subscribe to them. And because changes in pricing, reader tastes, distribution, marketing, and other trends have drawn new attention to the functions of book clubs, this is a particularly good time to examine this phenomenon.

Book clubs (and I'm referring to commercial clubs, not the informal discussion groups that have sprung up in living rooms over the last decade) were an outgrowth of attempts to reach a larger segment of the reading population than was then being served by bookstores. Experiments like department store book clubs (there were Macy's, Gimbel's, and Bloomingdale's clubs among others) and tie-ins of cheap editions …

Brand Names

By Richard Curtis

When I entered the publishing business the paperback revolution was in full swing, and among the innovations introduced at the time was the insertion of ads in paperbacks. Although a number of products were tried out, the ones that stood out most vividly were cigarettes. There was debate on both Publishers' Row and Madison Avenue about propriety and economics, and I don't recall that I cared much either way; it was fine with me if people wanted to run ads in books, and fine with me if they didn't. The ads didn't inspire me to buy the product, but few ads do anyway. Nor did I find them a desecration of literature, mainly because the books they ran in were often desecrations of literature to begin with. Still, some authors did not like it, and others worried that the insertion of an ad for Marlboros in The Attack of the Hydrangea People today could lead to one for Desenex Foot Powder in War and Peace tomorrow.
I doubt if such ethical considerations would …