Tuesday, June 17, 2008

Should Publishers Alter Contracts for Book Cover Illistrations?

With the economy what it is many people are asking themselves whether there will be more cut backs in jobs, less books printed, more on-demand prints or less spent in promo/marketing. But one avenue of change that could be helpful to publishers is altering contracts with book cover illustrators.
Don't get me wrong, I think artists should be fairly compensated for work. Book video production is an art form. We want to be fairly compensated for our work. But, like many other artists and companies we are feeling the harsh realities of a poor economy. We have discounted our products or added incentives and in some cases we simply lose work because people can't afford a video or can't afford what we charge for book video. The settle for a lesser quality and less distribution because they only have $100 or $200 to spend.
So, I'm not suggesting that publishers settle for less quality, only that they present to illustrators that the problems with the economy make it necessary to get better deals for the current prices or that the prices need to come down. Why not? Everyone else is sacrificing.

What I would like to see publishers do is to alter contracts so that artwork can be used online for video without having to pay extra or seek additional copyright approval. With the evolution of online uses for marketing it only makes sense to evolve the contracts to cover this additional use. The covers are being used for promotion use only. No one is selling their video. Many artists are allowing web use for video already, but some are still holding out.

We had one artist who was already paid $3000 to supply a book cover tell us that we had to pay him another $3000 to use the cover in a video. Obviously we didn't use it. Then, when the author became a huge success that artist tried to contact the author and the publisher to get more work and the author didn't want him because of his previous attitude.

Alter the contracts. Evolve them. Make sure web use for video is included. And be sure to specify that all of the individual elements of the cover should be available for use in a promotional video.

The publishing industry is a big machine, but it tends to shrink the longer you're in it. Everyone seems to know everyone and during a time of economic down turn, instead of cutting back, insist on getting more for what you're already paying. I would think that artists, especially during times like this, would be willing to negotiate.

Being able to use the elements of the book cover helps to tie in the video, the brand, the title and the overall look. Using those elements helps to encourage recall for the book cover.

The same should be done with fonts if possible. It should be included in the license that the fonts can be used in promo material including video.

And if you're looking to show the video off line on TV, movie theaters, Transit TV, etc. you should be sure that you don't limit yourself to "online use" only.

From a producers point of view, we realize that, often, a great deal of thought is put into what the book cover looks like, what the font is, etc. We would like to benefit from all of that careful consideration. If the publisher things those elements represent the story, we would like to use them in our videos.

No comments: