The Authors Alliance just published a free guide: Understanding Rights Reversion: When, Why, & How to Regain Copyright and Make Your Book More Available.
When a book has been out for a while and is no longer selling well, the authors of this guide found that publishers may be willing to let rights revert back to the author. This presents great opportunities for getting new digital readership.
Today’s technologies offer tremendous opportunities for authors to make their out-of-print or otherwise unavailable books more widely available. Some authors want to revive their books by creating e-books, while others may want to use print-on-demand technology or deposit their books in openly accessible repositories. We hope that the guide empowers authors to advocate on their own behalf to make their works more widely available, and we believe that many authors can work with their publishers to increase their books’ availability by following the strategies articulated in the guide: Be Reasonable, Be Flexible, Be Persistent, and Be Creative. More
The Boston College Libraries have experienced this firsthand. We send many out-of-copyright books to the Internet Archive to be reproduced as Kindle and ePub versions. A few years ago, Prof. David Northrup regained copyright to a book he had published in 1995 with Cambridge University Press, Indentured labor in the age of imperialism, 1834-1922. According to WorldCat the book is held by some 520 libraries worldwide.
With Prof. Northrup’s permission, we sent it to be digitized as part of the Boston College Collection. In the slightly more than two years it has been available through the Internet Archive and HathiTrust, it has been viewed 6698 times.
Faculty authors interested in making older work available may want to consult this guide or talk to their subject liaison librarian about our digitization program.