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Discussion Starter · #1 ·
How did I miss this? As I was searching the Kindle Store yesterday for Regency romances, I discovered the listings were glutted with -- and I'm not exaggerating here --- hundreds of ebook reissues of Harlequin and Silhouette books from the 1990s which will be available as ebooks on July 15! I knew it was just a matter of time before this would happen, but I hadn't heard anything about it (and I thought I was pretty well informed about the industry). My 1998 Regency-set historical they published, A DUKE DECEIVED, has been out-of-print in this country since 1998. This book won lots of awards, and I won the title Notable New Author because of it, so I should be happy it will be available again. BUT, they got it for 6 percent royalties. Ouch! I couldn't get my rights back on it because it kept making foreign sales. Just this year it was republished in Japan, for the third time there, in mass market paperback. Each time it sells in a different foreign country, I get around $1500 advance. Not bad. But I'm certainly not getting rich. I do hope the ebooks will make more in the long run. They certainly have advantages over the print ones.
I do have a concern with the fact that Harlequin and Silhouette listed their contemporary romance reissues under historical and Regency. They did this with Intrigues, Intimate Moments, American, etc. Is this legal?
 

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I just had to look and you are right, they are packing contempo stuff into the historical romance category. I don't know about legal, but its pissing me off as a reader. Assuming they just made a mistake there and just mass loaded everything in on blog.

They better fix it. If I look under Historicals, I don't want to see a bunch of contempo stuff.

For readers this is great that they are re-releasing older stuff, but for writers I would wish they could get their rights back and put it up themself,so at least more money would go to the author when we buy.
 

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Since these Harlequin authors signed their contracts in the 90's before epublishing really took off I can't help fearing they'll be getting screwed on royalties. Still, maybe this will at least bring on a surge of interest in whatever they're currently writing. One can always hope. 
 

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This makes me so sad for the writers. It isn't fair to them. If epublishing wasn't really available in the 90's so much, how is it that the publishers have the right to epublish? I know nothing about this business so I don't undertand. Will someone explain.

Atunah said:
For readers this is great that they are re-releasing older stuff, but for writers I would wish they could get their rights back and put it up themself,so at least more money would go to the author when we buy.
Atunah, you are a very sweet person to care. A bright spot in the epubbing night. :)
 

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I would love to see stuff from my teens, which is, um, a decade earlier than the nineties. I accept that many would read as creepy today. I hope the authors get compensated.
 

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In my experience, many authors have no interest in getting their rights back to self-publish their backlists. They just aren't interested in it, so for a reader who hasn't been able to get copies of their favourite books without stealing them from the local library, this is pretty exciting for them.

I'm really happy that your book is getting out again, though! I know that frustrates you regarding the royalty rates and all that, but (speaking as a reader here), if I come across your released backlist, like it, and see that you have a ton of other books on Amazon, I'm the type of person to buy everything you've written. I figure any time your work is being published and republished, it's a good thing and quite a compliment to your work. It's something to celebrate for sure!
 

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Wow, thanks for drawing our attention to this, Cheryl.  I think it's great that you'll have another book out there that could catch reader's interests and hopefully propel them towards your indie books.  It sucks you won't get much for it, but I suppose you could look at it as a loss-leader???  How much are the books selling for?
 

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JeanneM said:
This makes me so sad for the writers. It isn't fair to them. If epublishing wasn't really available in the 90's so much, how is it that the publishers have the right to epublish? I know nothing about this business so I don't undertand. Will someone explain.

Atunah, you are a very sweet person to care. A bright spot in the epubbing night. :)
The answer is written in the contract as "future electronic rights" including electronics that haven't been invented yet.
 

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Discussion Starter · #10 ·
Harper Alibeck said:
Will this help/hurt/have a neutral impact on indie romance authors? I'd imagine that many releases will be well publicized and might affect us like the Sunshine Sale. Or -- might it be the opposite? We all get a slight lift from the new sales?
CJ, They're selling the Harlequin/Silhouette books for $4.79. So, it's a little steeper than most of us are asking.
 

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Wow, that's something of a bummer for those authors, IMHO.  Those who might have been interested in releasing their own books would probably have done better that way (6% is a terrible rate on ebooks by today's standards).  Then again, if you aren't interested in indie publishing, it would be a nice thing to have your book available on Kindle.  So it probably depends on the author.  But it probably means the books will now be "in print" for all eternity, and they won't be able to get their rights back even if they want to.
 

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BTW, the "including technology which hasn't been invented yet" is usually thrown out in court... if it is ever challenged in court.  There are, of course, other ways the contract might lock up the rights, but it is certainly leverage to get Harlequin to shake loose some better terms.  Especially if all those authors got together and got smart IP lawyers.

Camille
 
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Will they promote their old books as 20th Century books for another generation?

Then we can promote our 21st Century books for "this" generation?

Just a marketing thought.
 

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If I had a dog in this fight, which I don't, I would suggest that a group of enterprising writers who want their rights back but have them held up by those ludicrous "future electronic technologies" clauses file a class-action suit citing the Peggy Lee v. Disney case against their publisher.

I'm not an attorney, but it seems like there's pretty relevant precedent for people holding the right to their work in spite of those clauses. It would take a good lawyer, but eventually this fight is going to be fought and publishing houses tying writers to antiquated contracts will have to come to the table and negotiate. It may not happen this month, or year, but it will eventually happen.

Remember, the content providers are the ones with the power. And we are the content providers.

I'm going to go find my Birkenstocks and Che Guevara T-shirt now.  8)
 

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These are '90's books. It's entirely possible the contracts specified electronic book rights. They weren't prevalent then, but they were on the radar.

Thing is, don't most rights revert when books go out of print? I have no idea how Harlequin works, but would their '90's books still be in print?

One thing authors could look into doing would be to enhance the text of their old book, creating a new version. Add an extra chapter, revise it a bit, etc.
 

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Asher MacDonald said:
These are '90's books. It's entirely possible the contracts specified electronic book rights. They weren't prevalent then, but they were on the radar.

Thing is, don't most rights revert when books go out of print? I have no idea how Harlequin works, but would their '90's books still be in print?
The Harlequin series contract is ludicrous. I think no right goes out of print so long as they are exercising some right under the contract within a certain time span. So if Harlequin printed your book in 1995, and then issued a Thai language version in 1998, a Romanian version in 2001, a German version in 2004, a Japanese version in 2007, and an Indonesian version in 2010, rights will not have reverted. Sadly, not so much an exaggeration.
 

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What Courtney said.

And I haven't seen the 90s harlequin contract obviously, but depending on how the clause is worded it's entirely possible it does refer to e-books. E-books did in fact exist in the 90s. They weren't popular, but they existed. E-books date back to 1971 with Project Gutenberg, albeit in a different format.
 

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If they're doing this in that style, I would guess it's to lock down their hold onto the copyright indefinitely.

You might be able to negotiate your rights to revert back if you act before this happens... with the help of an excellent copyright/IP lawyer... Once it's unleashed, forget it, probably...

I kind of wonder/worry about how this will affect all indies' sales for a while... that's gonna be a flood of titles all at once. And good luck trying to access KDP, PubIt, etc. around that timeframe...

And some folks complain indies are "flooding the marketplace..." LOL That's gonna be thousands and thousands of titles all in one day...
 

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CraigInTwinCities said:
That's gonna be thousands and thousands of titles all in one day...
Let's see...Harlequin's various lines put out 4-6 books per month (so anywhere from 48-72 books per line per year)...10 years' worth, and let's say 8 lines...

So that would be somewhere between 3600 and nearly 6000 books released by Harlequin all in one day.
 
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