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Thread: Biz question - academic publishing

  1. #1
    Ranger 9
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    Biz question - academic publishing

    A couple of years ago I helped a university-professor friend who wanted to produce some teaching materials to use in her dance classes. Over the course of several months we did three or four studio sessions photographing students [yeah, okay, beautiful college-age female dance students] demonstrating correct form for various exercises... probably a couple of hundred shots in all.

    It was fun to shoot, my friend bought me a few dinners in the process, and she got the university to pay me a couple of hundred dollars in honoraria, so I was pleased with the way it turned out.

    At the time she mentioned that she hoped eventually to turn the materials into a textbook, but I figured that was just a dream. Last week, though, she emailed me that they've found a publisher, and the book will be coming out next year!

    Apparently academic publishing works differently from commercial publishing: the publisher deals with the university, and the university deals with the contributors. For my part, I was given a release -- which I've already signed -- granting permission to use the photos in the current and any future editions, for which I'll be duly credited.

    And my friend said she has requested, and the university has already agreed, that they'll pay me $1,000 for use of my photos in the book. (Note that this is coming from the university -- a big, well-endowed private university -- rather than the publisher, making me feel more confident that I'll actually get paid.)

    Now, I'm not posting here to ask if I got scr*wed or if I should have bargained harder; I am thrilled that my friend is getting this boost to her academic career, and tickled pink with my share of the arrangements. I certainly wouldn't have turned it down or tried to negotiate something better.

    All I want to know is: Is this the sort of thing for which I might get pilloried and pelted with rhetorical eggs by photo professionals, like they did to the guy who shot the stock photo used for the now-infamous $30 Time magazine cover?

    Or would people be inclined to feel that, considering the limited market for this kind of textbook, it was legitimate for me to accept this deal? (No, I don't know what the author is getting, or the student/models... I hope at least they all got A's in their class!)

    Any thoughts? Do I need to buy a fireproof suit or get a new identity from the Lowball Photographer Protection Program?

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    Re: Biz question - academic publishing

    I think you need to ask yourself if you're comfortable and pleased with the deal you made. Can you sleep well at night? If the answers are yes then who cares what others may think.

    It boils down to being your art, your work to do with as you see fit.

    Just my 2 worth....

    By the way congratulations!


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    Administrator, Instructor Guy Mancuso's Avatar
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    Re: Biz question - academic publishing

    Quote Originally Posted by Ranger 9 View Post
    A couple of years ago I helped a university-professor friend who wanted to produce some teaching materials to use in her dance classes. Over the course of several months we did three or four studio sessions photographing students [yeah, okay, beautiful college-age female dance students] demonstrating correct form for various exercises... probably a couple of hundred shots in all.

    It was fun to shoot, my friend bought me a few dinners in the process, and she got the university to pay me a couple of hundred dollars in honoraria, so I was pleased with the way it turned out.

    At the time she mentioned that she hoped eventually to turn the materials into a textbook, but I figured that was just a dream. Last week, though, she emailed me that they've found a publisher, and the book will be coming out next year!

    Apparently academic publishing works differently from commercial publishing: the publisher deals with the university, and the university deals with the contributors. For my part, I was given a release -- which I've already signed -- granting permission to use the photos in the current and any future editions, for which I'll be duly credited.

    And my friend said she has requested, and the university has already agreed, that they'll pay me $1,000 for use of my photos in the book. (Note that this is coming from the university -- a big, well-endowed private university -- rather than the publisher, making me feel more confident that I'll actually get paid.)

    Now, I'm not posting here to ask if I got scr*wed or if I should have bargained harder; I am thrilled that my friend is getting this boost to her academic career, and tickled pink with my share of the arrangements. I certainly wouldn't have turned it down or tried to negotiate something better.

    All I want to know is: Is this the sort of thing for which I might get pilloried and pelted with rhetorical eggs by photo professionals, like they did to the guy who shot the stock photo used for the now-infamous $30 Time magazine cover?

    Or would people be inclined to feel that, considering the limited market for this kind of textbook, it was legitimate for me to accept this deal? (No, I don't know what the author is getting, or the student/models... I hope at least they all got A's in their class!)

    Any thoughts? Do I need to buy a fireproof suit or get a new identity from the Lowball Photographer Protection Program?
    Your in big serious trouble bud selling out like this. LOL

    Just kidding

    Actually not a bad deal but also you never posted how many shots they are using. But one thing for sure being a academic text book it does not really fall under the commercial zone of stock. Time did . Here it is not a advertising venue but more a document to educate . Big difference , do get a photo credit though.
    Photography is all about experimentation and without it you will never learn art.

    www.guymancusophotography.com

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    Re: Biz question - academic publishing

    I think you did great -- you were not really expecting anything more and now have a few Bens in your pocket and a textbook to your credit. I've given away a few single images for use in text books just for the line credit. Sleep well!

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    Re: Biz question - academic publishing

    another vote for "you did fine". much better than giving away your photo's for free (i would never do that). sounds like you kept the rights to the photo's--you never know someone from the class may become famous someday.

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    Re: Biz question - academic publishing

    Thanks for all the input. Here's some follow-up info that might interest some of you:

    I also asked my sister, who knows something about academic publishing since she's a librarian, is the director of collection development (person who decides what books to buy) at a state university, and is the editor of a professional journal on this subject.

    She told me that it isn't unusual for the author of a scholarly work to have to pay the publisher to get it into print!

    I know that in commercial publishing, this is called "subsidy press" and is considered a bottom-feeder stratagem to take advantage of amateur author-wannabees.

    But my sister says that the practice -- formally known as a "page charge" -- is legitimate and respectable in academia. It's more common with scientific journals (which are expensive to produce, but which often have only dozens to hundreds of subscribers) but sometimes happens with textbooks as well.

    She said scientific researchers usually are working off a grant, into which page charges are just figured as part of the overhead, along with the broken test tubes and everything else.

    For textbooks, she said, the dean often has a fund available to help faculty members pay the costs of publication. (That makes sense to me, as it would keep the professors happy, help build the university's prestige, and possibly attract additional students.) She speculated that it was out of this kind of "slush fund" that my friend arranged to have me paid, rather than a direct arrangement with the publisher.

    Knowing this, I'm even more happy with the outcome than before: I actually got money out of a system in which it's not uncommon to have to put money in! I'm pretty confident that within the weird economics of the academic publishing system, I can feel I cut a deal that's professionally respectable. And of course I'm particularly grateful to my professor friend that she looked out for my interests!

    Again, thanks for everyone's input.


    PS for fultonpics, who would never give away your photos for free -- actually, I do give mine away all the time... but always to shoestring nonprofit arts presenters and dance companies, which would love to pay me but legitimately can't afford it (at least not without giving up something else important.)

    Besides, I don't completely GIVE the photos away -- I bill the organization at a realistic rate, and then credit the amount back to them as an in-kind donation. That's good for them in two ways: they get to use the photos, and they can apply the in-kind donation against grants that require matching. And it's good for me: I can feel I'm helping people who deserve it, while still defending some notion of a pricing structure.

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    Re: Biz question - academic publishing

    glad it worked for you. i forgot, but i did publish a few times in grad school at bezerkely and professionally-- as i recall we got a small amount but there were charges for graphs, illustrations, etc that somehow got picked up by the school. a friend is doing a high-end photo book via a publisher in NY and he also said it is break even at best with many photographers actually fronting the costs which can be quite a bit.

    i get people asking for work quite frequently, but tend to avoid giving it away--even non profits (remember non-profits pay bills and salaries too). maybe i'll change my mind on this someday, but with so many requests, i haven't figured out where to draw the line in the sand. but i applaud your efforts and how you have structured it.

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