Some of you may already know that the initial plan for Nimbus had been to have CafePress print the books on a print-to-order basis, but because of the length of the thing, it would've cost over $30 for the paperback, and we wouldn't've been able to sell it via anything but CafePress, or in eBook form, so we started to look into other options in the self-publishing zone.
We had decided to take the self-publishing route because it was the speediest thing to do, and also because none of us had the time, this past spring, to find a traditional publisher with an interest in publishing the wide range of papers and panels presented at Nimbus - while we probably could've found someone to publish the more academic papers, we didn't want to leave things like the ship debate, the fanwords and fandom history panels, etc., off to the side; we wanted a comprehensive record of as much Nimbus as we could.
Of course, there are some papers we couldn't include. kitsune13 is putting one of her papers into a book already, for example, so we couldn't put it into the compendium - same with Phil Nel and Roger HIghfield (although he gave us an article to use instead).
But as those of you with the CD-Rom already know, there's over 40 papers and panels in there, and we were looking forward to them being available in book form.
And they will be, but there's been a delay.
A while ago, we contracted with iUniverse, a self-publishing house, to put the book together and put it out. Clearly, they were paying no attention to what they were doing when they put the first draft of the book together - they left the author names out of the table of contents, they didn't bold or center the author names at the top of each paper, and they did disasterous things to ajhalluk and wendywoowho's footnotes, among others (although they said, when we sent the correction sheet back, that these things would all be corrected).
But the dealbreaker came in the past two days, after gwendolyngrace, wordplay and I had spent probably 30 person-hours proofing the book.
On the proof, their copyright notice, which is their standard, said:
No part of this book may be reproduced or transmitted in any form or by any means, graphic, electronic, or mechanical, including photocopying, recording, taping, or by any information storage retrieval system, without the written permission of the publisher.
I asked them to add in "... and the copyright holder" after "publisher" in the last line. I told them it would be a dealbreaker, and we would have to cancel publication and get a refund, if they refused.
They actually said, "In most cases iUniverse will bring requests to reproduce portions of the work to you, as representative for the book, but we reserve the rights as indicated on the copyright page." They also said that per section two of their agreement, we had given them the rights they were claiming on the copyright page.
Here's what section two says:
AUTHOR grants to PUBLISHER the non-exclusive, worldwide license to publish the WORK in print, in the English language. The AUTHOR also grants to PUBLISHER the right to make the WORK viewable on the PUBLISHER's website or partner web sites that have entered into agreement with the PUBLISHER in order to facilitate sales of the WORK.
We're groovy with section two. We are not, however, groovy with permitting a copyright notice which implies to the public that iUniverse has any right to grant any reproduction rights to any third party without the consent of the copyright holder. Arguably, having such a copyright notice may even cause HPEF to "inadvertently" appoint iUniverse as HPEF's agent for such purposes; per our contract with them, they actually do not have the right to give anyone else the opportunity to reproduce or transmit the works, and here they are, trying to make it appear to the public that they do. And in most cases they'll bring reproduction requests to us? In what cases won't they?
So the contract was disolved this afternoon. And the work we've put into getting the proceedings published by them this summer is more or less for naught.
I had a long conversation with xlibris.com today - has anyone used them? - about having them do the proceedings, in which case they'll be available via Amazon and elsewhere this fall, about 6-8 weeks after we expected they would be.
We really are sorry to everyone who wanted the book (and any teachers who'd hoped to use it in classes this fall) regarding this delay, but they were trying to act in violation of the contract we'd entered into with them, and we could not go forward that way.
We'll keep everyone posted about how the proceedings-publication is going!