Letter: Scholars win in war of words (2)

April 12, 2001

Hardy writes in his review of The Remedy by Andrew Malcolm that "this was the one author in a million who would refuse to accept what he understandably saw as being mucked about. Malcolm sued".

All authors, particularly academics, should honour Malcolm as his case has benefited them rather than him. Winning his case against OUP at appeal, the judges made it clear that an oral offer to publish a book was tantamount to a written contract and editors in publishing houses have since been much more careful in what they say to authors and, where academics authors have representation, to literary agents.

The case brought out indirectly how inadequate the terms offered to authors by academic presses are, the assumption still being that scholars are paid salaries by universities (or whatever), need to publish for academic preferment, and thus need not be properly paid. Hence the swingeing profits made by OUP these day.

Giles Gordon
Curtis Brown, Edinburgh

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