Wednesday, November 11, 2009

Sales Thresholds in OOP Clauses

STATUS: Contracts and more contracts.

What’s playing on the iPod right now? VIVA LA VIDA by Coldplay

I know I’ve blogged about this before and the info is available under the tag Publishing Contracts but what the heck, it bears repeating. I can add the link under the Agenting 101 headings now for easy access.

OOP stands for Out of Print. Every publishing contract should have either a term of license for set period of years (7 being common) or the contract should have an out of print clause based on a sales threshold.

Sales threshold being the key term here if it’s not a set license period.

Sales threshold means that in order for a book to be in print, it has to sell a certain amount of copies, standard language is around 150 copies, in any accounting period. Most accounting periods are for 6-month periods in the publishing world.

This applies to ALL formats of the work—that would include eBooks.

In other words (and to repeat), the mere presence or the ability to do an eBook or a POD version will not keep a work in print UNLESS the publisher is selling 150 copies or more of any eBook or short run POD version in the 6-month period.

So even in the world of digital versions, the publisher still has to sell at least 300 copies a year to keep the work in print. If they don’t, rights revert to the author.

Remember the whole big snafu that S&S tried to pull last summer but eliminating those crucial last 4 lines of the S&S OOP clause that detailed the sales threshold? Yep, that’s why agents were in an uproar and refused to have clients sign those contracts.

Without that sales threshold, in this digital world, a work would never go out of print. However, with that sales threshold, publishers still have to sell 300+ copies to retain the rights.