Richard Nash, formerly of Soft Skull Press and now launching Cursor, a social publishing venture, says the old system of lifetime copyright contracts is out of date. "Why bother, why continue to participate in this old system?" he says. Instead, he proposes three-year contracts where authors can decide at the end if their publisher is serving them well:
Yup, from a contract that locks you in till seventy years after you’re dead, to a three year contract. Renewable annually thereafter. Which means after three years you can walk. Or stay, but stick it to us for better royalties because there’s gonna be a movie. Or stay with us because with all the additional formats and revenue opportunities we’re creating above and beyond what any publisher has to offer, you’re making more money than ever before.
For more of Nash on publishing, check out this video, which Wired's Chris Anderson says is the best speech he's ever seen on the future of books.