Reversion Clauses in an Age of Change

As the book business changes more and more quickly, we need to write flexibility and clarity into our contracts, in ways that are fair to all parties, and yet allow for futures we cannot yet see.

I see reversion clauses that have problems in this respect, but I think I have one that works. What do you think?

My reversion version:
Rights to this work shall revert to the author(s) when royalty earnings, exclusive of any reserves taken or released, have fallen below $XY for one full year. At that point, rights shall revert within 1 month of receipt of the author’s written request.

Possible variations:
–The publisher shall have the right to dispose of or sell any printed copies on hand at the time that reversion is requested, if the author(s) does(do) not choose to purchase that stock for amount it cost the publisher to print those copies.

–The publisher shall have 6 months from the date of request to issue a new edition or otherwise improve sales and royalty earnings.

So, what problems and misunderstandings might occur under this sort of contract? How would we fix those issues fairly?

One Response to “Reversion Clauses in an Age of Change”

  1. Rick says:

    In ancient times–say, into the nineties–reversion clauses structured in this manner often gave the author the option to buy the plates from which the book was printed in addition to any unsold stock. In today’s self-publishing market, a copy of the final printer’s pdf is more practical (and portable), so it’s worth negotiating for.

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