Tuesday, 20 October 2015

Routledge and the fate of my Bibliography

Routledge have bought out Pickering and Chatto. The Pickering and Chatto site (http://www.pickeringchatto.com/) now redirects here, where the reader is informed that "Routledge is pleased" with their acquisition of my publisher.

Although Routledge appear to have created listings for the "more than 750" Pickering and Chatto titles they acquired (on 1 July, according to this page), the detail from the old Pickering and Chatto site has not been carried over. Worse, the interface on the Routledge is appallingly designed, with entries listed horizontally behind a large search box (as below), which obscures much of the screen.

Anyway, I discovered all of this a few weeks ago when I went looking for the URLs of a few of my publications for a post I was working on. When I eventually found a URL for my Bibliography of Eliza Haywood—which was not easy, either on Google or via the Routledge site—I discovered that it was listed as "out of stock"—which seems highly unlikely. My annual royalty statements from Pickering and Chatto suggest that I am (or should be) "in print" for a while yet. So I sent an email asking what was going on. Routledge have not replied.

Since my 27 other Pickering and Chatto Routledge publications are all available, I suspect that Routledge has actually read my contract, which included (at my insistence) a sunset clause that gave Pickering and Chatto the "exclusive right" to publish my Bibliography only "for a period of ten years from publication". That ten years expired in 2014.

What this suggests is that Routledge has the right to sell the copies it has acquired from Pickering and Chatto, but no longer has exclusive rights as publisher. At any point from now on I could sell the rights to a (revised or not) Bibliography to another publisher or simply publish it myself online—something I have long planned to do.

I am guessing Routledge have decided to despose of the copies it has—without consulting me about it, although I hope not. My original contract included a clause allowing the publisher to remainder my Bibliography—but required them to notify me in writing of their intention to do so and giving me "the option for twenty-eight days of purchasing such copies at the remainder price." (I am not sure why I would want scores of remaindered copies of my Bibliography, but if Routledge were proposing to sell them very cheaply, I might use them to make a papier mâché monument of some sort ...) Perhaps they simply destroyed them. It would be nice to know either way. So, if anyone reading this sees piles of my Bibliography at a remainder sale, please let me know!

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