Wiley Reject AG’s Audit Proposal

John Wiley & Sons’ olive branch yesterday to authors may have brought limited progress, but today the US Authors Guild has already confirmed their own olive branch offer of a royalty audit has been rejected. Today, the Authors Guild revealed that Wiley rejected the royalty proposal which had been part of ongoing discussions this week. In an updated alert on the Authors Guild website today, the three parts of the proposal put to Wiley were made available to authors.
While it is understandable that both parties want to resolve the issue, the daily exchange of press releases and alerts – while keeping Bloomberg Press authors in the loop – there is a danger here that both parties efforts to seize the moral ground in the glare of the publishing media may result in scuppering any hopes of  a complete agreement.

“Our proposal to Wiley, which we agreed not to share with the press without first informing Wiley (Wiley took it upon itself to share part of it with the press), had three parts:”
And here are the three parts of that audit proposal:

1. After the conclusion of a standard Wiley royalty period, Wiley would allow an independent royalty auditor to review a reasonable sample of actual Wiley/Bloomberg royalty statements under the Wiley system and prepare a report on how the Wiley amendment affected authors’ royalties. The auditor would compute royalties under the Wiley amendment and under the original Bloomberg terms, to arrive at a clear, side-by-side comparison of the two. Wiley would disseminate that auditor’s report to its Bloomberg authors. This report would end the argument between Wiley and the Authors Guild: real data would replace rhetoric.

2. Wiley would then give its Bloomberg authors the chance to decide whether they wanted their original Bloomberg terms or the amended Wiley terms. Armed with the auditor’s report, truly informed consent would be possible.

3. Wiley would voluntarily agree to industry-standard reversion of rights sales thresholds for its Bloomberg authors. Bloomberg had no print-on-demand program, as we’ve previously noted and as Wiley freely admits. Bloomberg authors would have reasonably expected, therefore, that if their books didn’t sell enough to justify replenishing stock with a traditional print run, then the rights in the books would be revertible (otherwise, the definition of “out of stock” in the Bloomberg contract is gibberish). Fortunately, the industry has a well-accepted solution for applying print-on-demand technology to an author’s contract termination rights: minimum sales thresholds. Bloomberg authors are entitled to this routine contract term.

Suggesting an empasse may have been reached, today’s alert from The Authors Guild makes an offer to all Bloombery Authors:

“We’ll be offering a free service to all Bloomberg authors that will provide you with a side-by-side comparison of your original Bloomberg contract and Wiley’s proposed amendments.”

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