Re: out of print book assistance

From: Paul Dzus <pdzus[_at_]MIT.EDU>
Date: Fri, 6 Sep 96 09:05:54 EDT

> In August, she was informed by the publisher that a workbook-type book
> that has been used as a required text for an education class is out of
> print. The publisher has no plans to run another printing.
> Before asking me, they remembered that out of print sources can be
> copied. They took it upon themselves to copy about 60% of the text,
> and are selling it in the college bookstore (to those enrolled in that
> class only) for the photocopying costs.
> I made the following suggestions - after telling her I didn't think it
> was a good idea to make so many copies (they need 180 copies for the
> fall and spring semesters): 1) Find another textbook. (I was told
> that there are no other textbooks that cover this material.) 2) Be
> sure to copy the title page and the verso of the title page _and_
> attach a notation to each copy stating that this title is out of print
> as per the publisher on whatever date.
> There are a couple of things that trouble me about this. First, the
> fact that so many copies were reproduced and second, the fact that they
> are selling the copies in the bookstore.

Having worked in several college bookstores and two publishers, and encountered this same situation, my advice is to contact the publisher: 'out of print' does not mean 'out of copyright' and certainly not 'free to be copied' (textbooks can turn-over editions as fast as every 2-3 years, or as slow as 5-10 years, but copyright endures far longer than that). If no further editions of the text are being produced, the rights may have either stayed with the publisher or they may have been returned to the author. In either case, you should be sure you have permission to make the copies.

However, there are two things which may make things easier for you. 1) Some publishers have an in-house custom publishing program, whereby if they continue to receive large enough orders (usually from one school or school system) they can offer to reprint either part of all of the original text. Most publishers do not (yet) have the capability to offer this service and a certain mimimum amount (usually 500 copies) is required. The quality may not be as good as the original but it will be much better than photocopies. However, the publisher's customer service department would (hopefully) have told you about this when they told you it was out of print. 2) Permission fees associated with out of print books are usually much lower than those for material still in print. Even if you still have to do the production yourselves, you can do it legally for not much more cost. In either case, I would definitely recommend working directly with the publisher for a solution.


Paul K. Dzus
Subsidiary Rights Manager
The MIT Press Journals
55 Hayward Street, E39-350
Cambridge, MA 02142-1399 USA

Telephone	(617) 253-2864
FAX		(617) 258-5028
e-mail:		pdzus[_at_] or journals-rights[_at_]
Received on Fri Sep 06 1996 - 13:10:53 GMT

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