The Authors Guild Partners With Open Road Media to Get Members’ Backlists On the Market

6006206226_fd6a9e58f0_bOpen Road Media is a six-year-old publishing company which has made a name for itself for (among other things) digitizing backlists. This is why it bought Richard Curtis's E-Reads early last year, and how it ended up in a lawsuit with HarperCollins over Julie of the Wolves.

And now Open Road is putting its expertise to the good of The Authors Guild members. Late last week The Authors Guild announced a new partnership with Open Road Media which would help members digitize their out of print backlist titles:

Today, the Authors Guild and Open Road Integrated Media announced a new partnership for the Authors Guild’s Back in Print program, one of the Guild’s most popular services. Through Open Road, Authors Guild members will be able to distribute print-on-demand, e-book, and audiobook editions of their out-of-print titles. The e-books and audio book options are new to the program.

..

“We’re excited to work with Open Road,” the Guild’s Executive Director, Mary Rasenberger, said in the press release, “and to offer our members their best-in-class digitization and tremendous breadth of distribution.”

I briefly mentioned this deal last Friday when I covered the end of a similar deal with iUniverse, one of Author Solutions' many hydra heads, and I decided today that it was worth a second look (there are two stories in that one announcement, after all).

The new deal won't be going into effect until the fall, which should give the two parties time to work out details including exactly how ORM is going to handle creating the audiobooks mentioned above; that is not an option mentioned on the ORM website.

The website does make it clear, however, that ORM can help authors get their works back on the market. This startup can generate an ebook from a PDF or other source document, or even scan a print book and OCR the text.

They'll create an ebook and POD source file, distribute both to the usual channels, and pay the author 80% of net proceeds (according to the website).

That is a much better deal for authors than the one it replaced, which involved Author Solutions.

And so far as I can see, it is also the same deal that an author could get by dealing directly with Open Road Media, so I'm not sure what is gained here - other than the fact that The Authors Guild is no longer pimping out its members, but is instead directing the members to a service where they can make money.

images  by Nickolas Nikolic, GranniesKitchen

 

About Nate Hoffelder (11579 Articles)
Nate Hoffelder is the founder and editor of The Digital Reader:"I've been into reading ebooks since forever, but I only got my first ereader in July 2007. Everything quickly spiraled out of control from there. Before I started this blog in January 2010 I covered ebooks, ebook readers, and digital publishing for about 2 years as a part of MobileRead Forums. It's a great community, and being a member is a joy. But I thought I could make something out of how I covered the news for MobileRead, so I started this blog."

4 Comments on The Authors Guild Partners With Open Road Media to Get Members’ Backlists On the Market

  1. “And so far as I can see, it is also the same deal that an author could get by dealing directly with Open Road Media.”

    Well, we don’t know that yet. The terms haven’t been announced. Open Road is a huge company that publishes thousands of titles a year. Some of them do extremely well. They (can) price aggressively, are all over things like BookBub, and generally look like savvy marketers. At least if you go by the hits. Perhaps that gives things a favorable gloss, and the picture looks less rosy if you consider just how many titles they publish – I simply don’t know (I think the count is something like 2,500 a year, but I can check).

    I’d be surprised if it is the same deal an author could get by dealing directly with Open Road. From what I know, Open Road doesn’t offer the same terms to each author anyway, and this is a qualitatively different thing. Open Road are offering to take the AG’s BackInPrint.com titles en masse, and my guess would be that, as such, the terms will be less favorable than a standard Open Road publishing deal (which, from what I gather, is generally more like an Amazon Publishing deal than a Big 5 deal in terms of advances and royalty splits).

    Also, it must be kept in mind that a standard Open Road author is getting marketing and possibly print distribution in exchange for assigning the rights to the publisher. We don’t know if the AG authors are getting any of that. It could be simply that OR will publish digital and POD editions, and then include the books in their catalog, and they will sink or swim based on the efforts of the author.

    In other words, at BEST, the terms will be something along the lines of half the royalties you could get from KDP, and (I’m guessing) no marketing or real distro – and that’s assuming there are no gremlins lurking in those contracts.

    And that might be okay for some authors who lack the time/desire/skills to publish themselves, but the AG should be educating authors about all the options open to them and then letting authors choose the solution which fits best.

    It’s almost like the AG is encouraging a state of learned helplessness (and that they are afraid of uttering the words “self-publishing”).

    This move is a step forward, yes. But how much of a step will depend on those terms, and how it all goes. There are still many unanswered questions about the previous deal with iUniverse – such as the extent to which the AG was financially benefitting from that deal – and I remain skeptical given their approach to all this to date.

    • Yes, I went out on a limb in discussing the contract.

      In other words, at BEST, the terms will be something along the lines of half the royalties you could get from KDP, and (I’m guessing) no marketing or real distro – and that’s assuming there are no gremlins lurking in those contracts.

      I agree, that is not a bad deal for an author who only has an old print copy and no interest in getting it controverted. But you’re probably wrong about the distro; the website mentioned that the ebook will be distributed to the major ebookstores.

      It’s almost like the AG is encouraging a state of learned helplessness (and that they are afraid of uttering the words “self-publishing”).

      Maybe we should get you elected to the board? You could lead a movement to change that.

      • Re distro, I was referring to print and bookstores.

        Re the board, I wouldn’t be eligible but I have no absolutely no interest whatsoever and I presume the feeling is mutual. There is a self-publisher on the board now – CJ Lyons, and she’s great – but she is just one person and I bet there’s a whole culture of old thinking she’s fighting against. At least, that’s the impression I get from the statements of the new prez and plenty of the board members (people like Richard Russo) and influential members in the org (people like Douglas Preston).

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