Random House Reverses a Little?

Yesterday, I posted about the outcry over Random House’s new e-book imprint contracts. Well, it looks like Random House has changed their tune a bit.

First, on March 7, Allison R. Dobson, Random House’s Vice President and Digital Publishing Director, published a response to SFWA’s criticism of the Hydra contract. In that letter, Dobson defended the contract, saying, “Hydra is an excellent publishing opportunity for the science fiction community,” and called the new contract agreement “potentially lucrative” for writers (nice wiggle room there).

Now, five days later, Dobson has released a second letter in which she announced changes to the terms of the Hydra contract (and other e-book imprints of Random House). The contract has reverted back to a more traditional model in which the author receives an advance and royalties and Random House covers initial expenses. However, many of the points John Scalzi raised about the contract (e.g., life-of-copyright term) still remain in play.

Shocking. A bum contract agreement, the likes of which labels have used to screw over bands for years (as Scalzi pointed out), withered under scrutiny. Hopefully, not too many new authors lost out by agreeing to the original terms. I am also curious to see if further revisions occur, hopefully aligning Hydra and the other e-book imprints with more traditional publishing contracts.

I’m glad to see writers still have some leverage. After all, no writers, no publishers. And if you haven’t already, maybe you should consider joining SFWA if you qualify. Show them your gratitude for fighting on your behalf. And see what you can to do help out Writer Beware. They did a lot of heavy lifting on this issue too.

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