Comments on: The caprice of publishers http://blogs.reuters.com/felix-salmon/2012/09/27/the-caprice-of-publishers/ A slice of lime in the soda Sun, 26 Oct 2014 19:05:02 +0000 hourly 1 http://wordpress.org/?v=4.2.5 By: Moopheus http://blogs.reuters.com/felix-salmon/2012/09/27/the-caprice-of-publishers/comment-page-1/#comment-43517 Fri, 28 Sep 2012 14:00:20 +0000 https://blogs.reuters.com/felix-salmon/?p=18270#comment-43517 Oh, and I want to add, I don’t have a lot of sympathy for authors who sign big-money contracts and don’t deliver.

]]>
By: Moopheus http://blogs.reuters.com/felix-salmon/2012/09/27/the-caprice-of-publishers/comment-page-1/#comment-43516 Fri, 28 Sep 2012 13:55:58 +0000 https://blogs.reuters.com/felix-salmon/?p=18270#comment-43516 Here’s what happens. Someone, a bureaucrat in the accounting or contracts department, is looking at a list of contracts signed, advances paid, and needs to make some accounting decision about this. Is it a writeoff, or collectable, or will the book ever actually show up? Perhaps they query the editor (yes, I am speaking from direct experience): are you still hoping to get this? Good possibility the original signing editor isn’t even there any more. Possibly no one cares if they see this book. If they do, they might be able to hold off the lawyers for a while. Probably in the majority of cases (it would be hard to make statistics) it never actually goes to court; some settlement is reached before it gets there. Many book contracts are for small amounts that would be barely worth a lawyer’s time for a phone call. But really, the whole process is driven by accountants and lawyers.

]]>
By: Strych09 http://blogs.reuters.com/felix-salmon/2012/09/27/the-caprice-of-publishers/comment-page-1/#comment-43503 Thu, 27 Sep 2012 19:50:50 +0000 https://blogs.reuters.com/felix-salmon/?p=18270#comment-43503 If I recall correctly, Elizabeth Wurtzel, one of the original ’80’s “celebutards” put herself through an ivy league law school on her various advances, as well as nursing a pretty unhealthy drug habit along the way. That spot could have gone to a serious student who intended to so something with it other than engorge the ego of a jewish american princess.

I know it wouldn’t hold up in court, but the publisher should get their advance back just on the basis of that alone: I haven’t read her contract but I hope, if there is any justice in the world, there was a mortal turpitude clause that allowed her advance to be clawed back even if she DID turn in a manuscript.

Spare us, Felix. We shouldn’t care at all about these lawsuits, unless “we” are part of the so-called “creative class” living in whatever borough of Manhattan (the upper east side?) is fashionable nowadays.

]]>
By: realist50 http://blogs.reuters.com/felix-salmon/2012/09/27/the-caprice-of-publishers/comment-page-1/#comment-43502 Thu, 27 Sep 2012 19:17:11 +0000 https://blogs.reuters.com/felix-salmon/?p=18270#comment-43502 +1 to guanix, who seems to understand this issue better than Felix or any of the other commenters.

I have a tough time seeing why Felix or anyone cares about the interest amount. These are civil suits, and a plaintiff can in theory ask for whatever they want in terms of consequential damages, interest (subject to state usury laws), etc. If the amount of interest can’t be supported, then no judge would include it in a judgement, and similarly any decent attorney for one of these authors would disregard it in negotiating a settlement.

]]>
By: guanix http://blogs.reuters.com/felix-salmon/2012/09/27/the-caprice-of-publishers/comment-page-1/#comment-43501 Thu, 27 Sep 2012 19:02:19 +0000 https://blogs.reuters.com/felix-salmon/?p=18270#comment-43501 klhoughton: Of course the contract was broken. Cox agreed in section 3(a) to deliver a manuscript on March 1, 2007, and didn’t (Penguin alleges). That gave Penguin the option to terminate the contract. Section 3(b) says that any sums paid to the author must be paid if the contract is terminated for non-delivery. Section 3(c) says that the non-compete clause applies for 9 months after termination, so she could sell the same book or a similar book to someone else now.

(If a manuscript is delivered but is deemed unacceptable, the advance still has to be repaid, but only from the proceeds of selling the book to another publisher.)

]]>
By: klhoughton http://blogs.reuters.com/felix-salmon/2012/09/27/the-caprice-of-publishers/comment-page-1/#comment-43495 Thu, 27 Sep 2012 15:51:48 +0000 https://blogs.reuters.com/felix-salmon/?p=18270#comment-43495 But the contract was not broken.

The advance paid to Ms. Cox was 1/4 of the contractual advance. The rest of the advance, per the contract, would be paid at later points in the process, such as when the manuscript was delivered or accepted.

Those payments were never made. The contract has not been broken, and remains in force. That is, Ms. Cox may not sell a book simillar to that for which she contracted with Penguin to another publisher–that’s why she got the portion of the advance up front. (She might be able to sell a cook book, for instance, if she contracted for a novel; she might not.* The pre-manuscript portion of the advance is for exclusive rights to the work, not the work itself.)

If advances were refundable in full four months after the contractual deadline, there wouldn’t be a publishing industry. Similarly, no publisher will pay an author who delivers a manuscript early–or even on time, when the publisher then later delays release of the book–interest.

There’s good reason no interest rates are listed; no one would ever pay interest without there being an asset, and there is no asset until the manuscript is delivered, at which point the path is clear.

*Wurtzel, for instance, (per Wikipedia) has a contract for a book (it was due in 2011, so clearly not the same contract TSG is discussing) called Creatocracy. Presumably, it is different enough that it would not fill the Penguin contract, though she may–rightly, it appears–believe that Penguin does not intend to honor the next phases of its contract with her.

]]>
By: MrRFox http://blogs.reuters.com/felix-salmon/2012/09/27/the-caprice-of-publishers/comment-page-1/#comment-43494 Thu, 27 Sep 2012 15:37:43 +0000 https://blogs.reuters.com/felix-salmon/?p=18270#comment-43494 The authors need better lawyers to write their contracts for them, and better agents to explain to them that they can’t prudently spend the advance-money until they deliver an acceptable product.

]]>
By: MarkWolfinger http://blogs.reuters.com/felix-salmon/2012/09/27/the-caprice-of-publishers/comment-page-1/#comment-43492 Thu, 27 Sep 2012 15:24:20 +0000 https://blogs.reuters.com/felix-salmon/?p=18270#comment-43492 Forget interest. Just call it what it is: Penalty for breaking the contract.

]]>
By: guanix http://blogs.reuters.com/felix-salmon/2012/09/27/the-caprice-of-publishers/comment-page-1/#comment-43491 Thu, 27 Sep 2012 14:40:50 +0000 https://blogs.reuters.com/felix-salmon/?p=18270#comment-43491 At least according to the complaints, these are cases where a manuscript was never delivered, not manuscripts that are delivered but not accepted. If Cox had actually delivered a manuscript, it would probably be much more difficult for Penguin to win in court.

Would it be better if publishers sue every single author who’s late on a manuscript and always asked for the maximum interest they’re theoretically entitled to? Or, alternatively, never sue?

Pre- and post judgment interest in New York is 9%. Interest in the Cox case is probably based on the manuscript deadline of March 2007, which works out to about 9%.

]]>