As I have been publishing free ebook posts over the past month. I have started seeing a trend that I have not noticed before. A number of authors, many in that mid range (you have heard of them, but they don’t sell millions of books) are taking back the digital rights of their books.
In some cases this is easy because digital rights were not in the original contracts (many of these books were published in the 1970-1985 range). In other cases there are some clauses in the original contract that specified terms (usually out of print in paper and/or a buy-out amount).
I think that for some authors this has a real chance of revitalizing their careers. Their books are mostly out of print, but the original books are pretty good. Some of the genres or books themselves feel a bit dated, but others like historical fiction or some science fiction/fantasy will feel fresh. My guess is that some authors will actually have their books reprinted in paperback because their ebooks start selling well. It may actually re-start the careers of some. Who knows, stranger things have happened.
This is another case that shows that traditional copyright law is broken. There are a number of authors that will take advantage of this, but it will take time and money. The authors will have to get new covers, probably get book scanned and converted to ebook (because virtually none of these books will have been prepared with digital files) and possibly a small marketing budget. For authors that have decided to just not put forth the effort, or who no longer can, these books will be locked up for another 100 years in copyright, with no possibility of being able to legally obtain the book, even though there are readers that would buy them right now.
Another book I saw today was the 1964 Newberry Award winner. But because the author has died, the copyright was not properly renewed, etc. this is one of the very few books that slipped through into public domain. So go ahead and pick up It’s Like This Cat by Emily Neville.