The Best Books on Publishing Law and Book Contracts

August 1996
by John B. McHugh

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As a publisher, you need to understand publishing law. If your publishing responsibility is new author/book acquisitions, a working knowledge of book contracts is essential to your success.

To provide you with a working knowledge of publishing law and book contracts, I recommend seven books I have found valuable. Each of these books should be part of your professional publishing library. I have read and evaluated each book. I share my evaluations with you.

Since publishing law is dynamic and some aspects of publishing law vary from state to state, these books are not a substitute for consulting a qualified intellectual property/publishing lawyer. However, these publications will prepare you to meet with your lawyer and may save you money on lawyer’s fees.

Many of the books I recommend are written for the author rather than the publisher. These “pro-author” books are excellent resources for publishers too. Read them with the understanding that the books have the author’s interests in mind.

Balkin, Richard
A Writer’s Guide to Contract Negotiations
Cincinnati, Ohio, Writer’s Digest Books, 1985

Don’t let the publication date fool you; this book is still vital and contemporary. The author is an agent with an understandable pro-author bias. This is a gem packed with valuable information for publishers as each and every book clause is minutely analyzed for implications for both author and publisher. It also discusses contracts for professional, technical, and educationa…IBPA Members – Click here to view the full article (login required).

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