Last week we wrote about publisher John Wiley & Sons abruptly removing some 1,300 ebooks from library collections, and then (in the face of significant public outcry from librarians, authors, and instructors) temporarily restoring access for the academic year.
Authors Alliance has heard from a number of authors expressing their strong disapproval of Wiley’s actions. To help them express their concerns, we co-wrote a letter with #ebookSOS that authors of the Wiley books can sign on to, calling on Wiley to change their practices. The text of the letter can be read here. We’re still working on reaching out to all of the individual authors of these books (if you are inclined to help find contact info, you can contribute it here), but already we’re hearing back from authors with comments of their own. For example, authors wrote us to express their frustration over lack of respect for their interests in seeing their books put into the hands of readers:
“I find the removal of eBooks arbitrary and infringing on the rights of the authors and the prospective readers/users of these book.”
“I strongly agree with your approach concerning the e-books. Wiley is evidently the only beneficiary of this system, which works against the authors and readers.”
“I would like my book to be available to as many students as possible.”
Unsurprisingly, the question of royalties paid out to the authors of top-selling titles is a frequent topic of discontent, highlighting the mismatch between the high prices that Wiley charges for access and the funds that actually make their way to authors. For example, authors wrote us to say:
“Recently I wrote Wiley if I can get a yearly list of royalty payments corresponding to hard cover, e-book and, if appropriate, solution manual. Because for a book in the forefront of the technology, I received only $8 as the last royalty payment. The result was no answer. All these make me question if they calculate the royalty payments honestly. I was not intending to get rich when I decided to write this book, but the return of time and effort I put for writing such a book is not fair. I wonder whether the return for Wiley is also that low.”
“Wiley created a lot of problems in royalty payments. I had to write a letter of complaint to the CEO of Wiley in order to get my first royalty payment after approximately three years after the publication of the book. The payment department was uncooperative.”
As we note above, in response to mounting pressure, Wiley did recently announced it will reinstate the withdrawn books, but only until June 2023. After hearing from the authors we’ve reached out to, Authors Alliance and #ebookSOS agree that the problem is in no way solved and are continuing their efforts to raise awareness with authors.
For more information please contact us at email@example.com or at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Note: this initiative is part of a wider joint project, to educate and empower authors, who rarely know how their work is managed post-publication, to hold publishers to account. If you want to help on this project please get in touch.