Tuesday, June 23, 2009

What Does Alastair Reynolds’ Contract Say About the Publishing World?

So, the SFF publishing world is drooling in envy at Alastair Reynolds’ new contract for 1 million pounds for 10 books over 10 years. I’m curious – what does this say about the publishing industry? It’s often all doom and gloom that ebooks will put the publishing world out of business, that novels are dying, that people don’t read, that the recession will kill books, etc. Frankly, I don’t buy all the ‘sky is falling’ arguments that come out from time to time, and when I see a SFF author get a contract like this, it makes me think that the publishers don’t actually think things are as bad as they say they are. Or is this just business as usual?

So, a lot of people who read this blog know more about this industry than I do – what do you guys think?


Foreverlad said...

Personally I think the contract speaks more for what the industry is looking for than where their concern lies.

Whether decologies such as this are being contracted for the sake of industry survival or simply as a wise investment remains to be seen.

As for the death of paper, I'm not worried. Ebooks (with reliable DRM) should help lower overhead and provide the industry more opportunity to invest in new voices.

Reading itself isn't dying, we're all just trying to figure out what kind of content brings a new set of eyes to the table.

Joe Sherry said...

Without knowing the innerworkings of publishing, what this tells me is simply that Reynolds sells and sells is sufficient volume that this contract makes sense for the publisher.

The response Reynolds has made is that he writes better when he has a sense of security and this certainly gives that.

But, what I wonder, is after that first trilogy - what sort of advance / contract has he been getting already for his novels? For all we know he already gets 100,000 pounds per book and this is just a contract which slaps together ten books in a contract.

Also - I was at a con this weekend and an editor was talking about the big contract announcements you see and the fine print you don't hear is that some of those dollars (or pounds) can be tied into sales and awards and other dependent clauses like in professional sports. It's not all up front money for publishing the book. Maybe it is for Reynolds here, but maybe not.


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