Brought to book?

John Radford argues that academic authors are not adequately remunerated for their contributions to publishing. Joyce Collins explains the economics of book publishing and considers reward for academic activity in general.
JOHN RADFORD - I AM negotiating to do a second edition of a well-received book I wrote a dozen years ago. It is strongly supported by three very distinguished referees. I estimate it will take me the equivalent of six months’ full-time work. The publishers offer a return on projected sales, of around £1500. Everyone else involved will of course be paid at normal commercial rates. And they want it on disk, fully word-processed – formerly the work of typist and compositor. I am asked to write a chapter for another book. I am told: ‘Due to the costs of production, it will not be possible to pay the authors anything.’ My work is not a ‘cost of production’. A journalist telephones to ask for material that will form a major part of an article. Myself: ‘Are you going to pay me anything?’ Journalist: ‘I’m afraid not’. Myself: ‘Will you get paid?’ Journalist: ‘Oh, that’s quite different!’

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