I have a question. I have self-published a book through Partridge publishing. This is what my contract says - "1.4. You will retain all rights to the content of the Work. We do not own rights to your Work and we are NOT responsible for editing the Work and have no editorial control over your Work. As part of the Services, you may purchase copy editing services provided by us. You will have final authority with respect to suggested editing changes made by our copy editors.

1.5. You acknowledge that you may not utilise the formatted Work, International Standard Book Number (ISBN), and cover with any other publisher."

Can someone please tell me what exactly this means and if this means I can/cannot publish this book with another publisher after a period of time?

  • 4
    Intriguing. I Am Not A Lawyer, but it is possible (with this particular wording) that what you can't use with another publisher is only what you've received from Partridge - to wit, a formatted version of your book, the ISBN, and the cover. If Partridge is a real self-pub service, you should retain rights over the actual content. I will see if I can dig up an answer to this.
    – Standback
    Commented Dec 9, 2013 at 13:58
  • That's what I hoped, it does mention the word 'formatted' version which does make it seem that way. Thanks and do let me know if you come across something on this :)
    – Meera
    Commented Dec 9, 2013 at 14:07
  • 2
    It's worth remembering that most publishers want first world publishing rights, as in they will only take your work on if it has not already been published elsewhere (which includes self-publishing as far as I know.)
    – CLockeWork
    Commented Dec 9, 2013 at 14:41

3 Answers 3


IANAL, and you should ask a lawyer (and in the future, please, never ever again sign a contract you do not understand), but for me it reads like this:

You will retain all rights to the content of the Work. We do not own rights to your Work ...

You haven't sold any rights. You still hold every right of your work. Which includes publishing it elsewhere.

... not utilise the formatted Work, International Standard Book Number (ISBN), and cover with any other publisher

They didn't buy your rights, but you didn't buy their rights either. If they provided the cover, then they hold the copyright on the cover and you are not allowed to use it.

If they formatted your work for printing (making it readable in a paper book), then it's their book design (interior design). If this is distinguishable from other designs, you are not allowed to use it. No big deal, because a new publisher will use his own interior design.

You must not reuse the ISBN anyway. An ISBN is bound to the publisher. If you hire a new publisher then he must use a new ISBN (and will; no legitimate publisher will reuse an existing ISBN).

  • Thanks, that is a relief! I suppose it was a bad idea to have signed without really reading through all the clauses, the minute i saw that I own the copyright i just went ahead and signed. Later I found that Partridge's pricing of the book was a lot more than what was initially indicated and I'm certain it is affecting sales. It was only when I got talking with another publisher and he was willing to publish (and price it lower) that I looked at the contract properly. Lesson learned :)
    – Meera
    Commented Dec 10, 2013 at 8:58

With those terms, you can publish it with another publisher SIMULTANEOUSLY. You just can't take Partridge's formatted version, after they've done the work of formatting your text, and let someone else publish the exact same thing. The .txt or .doc (or whatever) file that YOU made, that you originally brought to Partridge, is YOURS, and you can take THAT to another publisher. IANAL but that is pretty clear. OTOH, the editorial changes, if you paid for those, are less clear. It sounds like you would have paid separately for those, as part of a "copy editing service." In other words, you paid them to do a job for you (copy editing). You didn't offer them co-authorship.

  • Thanks a lot, your answer really put things in perspective. Yes I was offered copy editing services but declined as I had already got it done, so I sent them the word document and a cover design, they formatted it (font selection, placement of page number, chapter heading etc as per a form i had to fill up), they also re sized the cover pic to fit. So I guess I will not be able to use the same cover pic either and if i want to go with another publisher I have to use my original word file and get a new cover made.
    – Meera
    Commented Dec 10, 2013 at 8:49
  • If you paid someone else to make a cover pic for your book, and that's what Partridge used for their version, then that pic still belongs to you, I would think. What you CAN'T do is take Partridge's completed Word or Publisher (or whatever) file to some other place. Partridge did not make that file for you as a "service for hire." They did it so they could sell their version of your book and make money off it. Therefore, anything you brought them is still yours, but what they made out it is theirs. Standard disclaimer: IANAL.
    – dmm
    Commented Dec 10, 2013 at 14:51

The 1st part basically says that Partridge are not responsible for your book, they're literally just providing a publication service. It's completely yours, and you can do with it what you like in-terms of the actual content/words/ideas of the book.

The 2nd part is a standard exclusivity clause.
You can only publish this work with them and nobody else. There is no note on period of time, just that you can only publish this work with them and no other publisher.

This clause is fairly standard between publishers. I Googled the terminology of the line and you can see Partridge, Swift, AuthorHouse, WestBow, Legacy Isle and many more. Seems to be quite standard even in terms of the legalese.

  • Thanks for the reply :) So it basically means I am stuck with them for ever! Does holding the copyright for the book mean anything? I mean I am just wondering what is the point of my holding the copyright if I cant publish with anyone else.
    – Meera
    Commented Dec 9, 2013 at 13:34
  • Your copyright isn't used for publishing per-se. See this link... granted it's US Based but the reasons still stand world-wide bookpublisherscompared.com/why-copyright-your-book If you hold copyright, (in laymans terms) it means you are the legal owner and you are protected from plagiarism much more securely.
    – Dan Hanly
    Commented Dec 9, 2013 at 13:36
  • My contract does not say anything about selling movie rights for my book, does it mean I retain the movie rights and the right to the name of my book and have the right to sell the film rights?
    – Meera
    Commented Dec 9, 2013 at 13:40
  • 1
    By the looks of the 1st point, I'd say that it's entirely yours to use as you please, however, I'd suggest that you show the Terms & Conditions to a qualified lawyer to get deeper clarification on this. They'll be able to answer your questions and give you advice on how to proceed.
    – Dan Hanly
    Commented Dec 9, 2013 at 13:42
  • yes I think that seems like the best option. Thanks a lot for the answers.
    – Meera
    Commented Dec 9, 2013 at 13:55

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