Posted 1 февраля 2023,, 10:30

Published 1 февраля 2023,, 10:30

Modified 1 февраля 2023,, 12:21

Updated 1 февраля 2023,, 12:21

Personal experience: how publishers deceive respected authors

Personal experience: how publishers deceive respected authors

1 февраля 2023, 10:30
The authors of the books do not actually receive royalties for their publication, whereas all the proceeds from their sale go to the publishers.

Nikolay Zhdankin, Doctor of Technical Sciences

As you know, Russia is the most reading country in the world.

And this, I think, will continue for a very long time, which our publishers use very well. However, while receiving huge incomes, they pay the authors crumbs "from the lord's shoulder", appropriating almost all the income from the sale of books. I think it's high time to deal with this issue, and put publishers in a framework that will be impossible to circumvent.

I am a Doctor of Technical Sciences, Professor and academician of the Russian Academy of Sciences. I have been writing and publishing books for many years (of course, through publishing houses). And I have always been pained and pained by the humiliatingly low fees that publishers pay to authors, building their policy on deceiving authors, arguing that they are the ones who do all the work, preparing the book for publication and publishing it, and the authors are like doing nothing (?). They offer authors to get moral satisfaction and authority from editions of their book. No one is going to share the money. Thus, there is a direct violation of copyright, which provides for the payment of royalties for the use of the work (publication, replication, posting on the website, etc.) in the case, of course, of the conclusion of a contract. 

Modern publishers, putting themselves at the forefront, somehow forgot that without the text of the book itself - a good text! - there will simply be nothing to publish. The author is the main person in this process, who creates a work and demands due respect for himself. But in fact, he is simply being brazenly deceived, hanging "noodles on his ears".

Here is the last example. Working with the publishing house "KnoRus", I have prepared 2 books - textbooks "Innovation Management" and "Strategic Management", first published in this publishing house in 2016 and 2021. We signed the contract, defined the terms and conditions, including the royalties in the form of "royalties" (percentage of sales) of 10 and 12%. The percentages themselves, of course, are ridiculous, but now it's not about them (we'll return to them later), but the fact that even those who don't want to pay such meager fees, but spin as best they can, deceiving the authors in the number of copies sold.

The appendix contains information about the fee for 2021 for these two books. As you can see, according to their data, 23 books each were sold. This alone is already in doubt. Different books, different material, different release years, different price, and the quantity is the same. A simple template approach for unsubscribing! When I asked them to give me information about the sales of books for each operator (Liters, Labyrinth, Ozone, the publishing house itself, etc.), they refused to do it, citing trade secrets. That's how it became a trade secret for the author himself! Which raises huge doubts about the purity of the transaction.

When I asked to provide me with data for sales in 2022, the publisher began to say that in 2022 these books were not in production (although they were actively sold). The result: 2021 has 23 books, and there are no 2022 books at all, although the initial circulation was 500 copies, and it is very difficult to believe that the publishing house is working at a loss. Moreover, they always reprint the print run when it is fully sold, without informing the author.

Although, according to my colleagues, books are very popular and actively sold, but it is impossible to find ends in terms of sales volumes.

Therefore, it is urgently necessary to resolve the issue of identifying sales volumes for each edition. I think it's easy to do this, since each book has its own individual ISBN number, which should be displayed in each sales act, like a product in a receipt at the cash register. For some reason, the Russian Government does not pay attention to these things at all. To fight with self—employed pensioners selling vegetables from their vegetable garden or renting out their apartment (room) with a meager pension - they are always welcome. But to put publishers with billions of turnover in their place – there is not enough skill or desire for this. Although it is not difficult to do this at all…

At the same time, another important question arises. Publishing houses, underestimating sales volumes, simply hide the amount of revenue, from which profits are then considered and tax is paid to the state treasury. Therefore, having established accurate tracking of sales volumes, the issue of replenishing the budget for the development of the country is being solved, i.e. the state task is being solved.

Now about the calculation of the fee. This is a separate topic. We are not talking about the final sales price at all. The initial price of the publisher is considered, from which 40% is immediately deducted, and only then the author's fee is considered. As a result , the price of the publishing house is 1500 rubles . the author receives only about 100 rubles. And then it is multiplied by the "volume" of sales, which is simply sucked out of the finger with a significant underestimation. So the next question is to increase the royalties to at least 20-30%. That would be fair.

It seems that publishing houses manage to deceive everyone – both authors and the state. And more. In the end, science suffers when a scientist, instead of feeding from the sale of his works, is forced to actually pay for them out of his pocket every time. What kind of development can we talk about?

In 2021, I wrote several articles about the "Euphoria from SCOPUS ...", which can be seen here and here - it was about the harm of chasing ratings when evaluating the work of scientists by mandatory publication of their works in the international databases Scopus and Web of Science. Such a pursuit deprives science of the stuffing, and everything boils down to the stupid publication of articles in these publications for a lot of money, but science is practically not moving forward.

Later in 2022, the pursuit of ratings was formally canceled, but the essence remained the same: orientation to Scopus, as it was and remains a priority. That is, nothing has really been done, and those who print for money and have a high rating at the same time thrive among scientists. At the same time, universities are squandering public money, having not implemented the "5-100" program, and now its continuation - the "Priority 2030" program. By the way, no one has answered for the failure of the "5-100" program, and all officials have retained their high posts. In fact, we have the same thing when publishing books: you print books "without a fee", i.e. for free, and the publisher receives the income. Thus, the scientist is always in flight.

Without solving this issue, it will be difficult to raise science to the proper level.

I have addressed this to the President of Russia V.V. Putin and the Head of Rospotrebnadzor A.Y. Popova, but there is no answer.: 

And yet these issues need to be resolved. Therefore, I would like to sort out the sales volumes of both my books and those of other scientists, pay normal royalties and finally resolve the issue of copyright compliance when working with publishers. Work with them should be made transparent and understandable, which will provide additional revenues to the budget and strengthen the flourishing of science in our country.

About the author:

Zhdankin Nikolay Aleksandrovich - Doctor of Technical Sciences, Academician of the Russian Academy of Sciences, former professor of NUST MISIS, author of more than 270 scientific papers, 25 inventions and more than 15 books.