The Law (in Plain English) for Publishers

Two Lawyers Just Penned the Legal Bible for Publishing Professionals

“Many of my publisher clients and former students have asked me to recommend a book that would aid them in understanding the legal issues faced by writers and publishers. Unfortunately, I was unable to recommend any single volume that would serve this purpose."

- Leonard D. DuBoff, The Law (in Plain English) for Publishers

Have you ever wondered how long a copyright lasts, or what kind of ethics govern the profession of literary agent? Sure, you can probably find these details by conducting a simple Google search. But with their brand-new book, The Law (in Plain English) for Publishers, Leonard D. DuBoff and Amanda Bryan are granting us an easier option. The result is our Indie Groundbreaking Book for the month of April. 

The Law (in Plain English) for Publishers is precisely what its title suggests: a compendium of legal knowledge pertaining to the publishing industry. While this type of book isn’t necessarily the first of its kind—DuBoff himself wrote and published a precursor titled The Book Publishers’ Legal Guide in 1984, after realizing that there wasn’t anything on the market filling that particular void. He also penned The Law (in Plain English) for Writers, a book which features plenty of useful insights that writers could use to navigate the publishing industry. 

But a lot of time has passed since 1984, and The Book Publishers’ Legal Guide is both out of date and out of print. Plus, DuBoff has spent much of the intervening years acting as a sort of emissary between the legal profession and the average layman. His Law (in Plain English) series has helped decode relevant legal statutes for people working in all manner of industries, from art and antique collecting to restaurants and food service businesses, all the way to photography. His skills at identifying the details about the law that people need to know for their businesses—and then somehow explaining those laws in easy-to-understand ways—are second-to-none. 

These factors meant it was time for DuBoff to update his old insights on law for publishers, thus the arrival of The Law (in Plain English) for Publishers. For the book, DuBoff enlisted the talents and knowledge of Amanda Bryan, a fellow lawyer who practices in the area of intellectual property law. Before attending law school, Bryan earned a master’s degree in writing with an emphasis in book publishing. Together, she and DuBoff make quite the dream team. They’ve crafted the ultimate legal manual for anyone in the publishing industry. 

For independent or small-press publishers just trying to find their feet—or trying to grow in a stable and sustainable fashion—the plethora of information presented in this book will be invaluable. What’s the ideal business structure for a book publishing company? What are the ins and outs of publishing contracts? How has the rise of digital book distribution affected the legal aspects of the process? How can publishers minimize their tax obligations in a smart, legal way? When does publishing something about another person become an infringement of privacy or an act of defamation? What are the legal and ethical rules of negotiating with authors and publishers? What do you need to know about parody, satire, fair use laws, plagiarism, and copyright infringement? DuBoff and Bryan answer these questions and many, many more. 

Too often, law-related books are dense, interminably long, and borderline incoherent for anyone who doesn’t have a law degree. The writing of laws themselves does not lend itself to easy reading, comprehension, or information retention. The Law (in Plain English) for Publishers is different. If you’ve ever picked up one of DuBoff’s titles in the past, you know what to expect here. The book is broken up into chapters, each of which has multiple heading sections. Every section includes a detailed writeup of the legal aspects of the topic in question, like “The Home Office Deduction” (in the taxes chapter) or “Transferring or Licensing Copyrights” (in the copyright protection chapter). Many of these sections conclude with a small “In Plain English” box, where DuBoff and Bryan distill the information provided in the preceding section into a few easy-to-understand sentences. This format makes it a breeze to grasp the concepts at play and implement them in your business. 

Today’s publishing industry is a true legal quagmire, fraught with the complications of changing distribution models and the evolution of the market in general. Whether you are the owner of a publishing company, a literary agent, an editor, and author, a ghostwriter, or any other type of publishing professional, being aware of these legal obligations is essential. No one in this industry can afford to risk their career, their business, or their reputation on legal ignorance. With The Law (in Plain English) for Publishers, Leonard D. Duboff and Amanda Bryan have made it easy for everyone in publishing to keep things compliant, ethical, and 100 percent above board.

You can purchase The Law (in Plain English) for Publishers on or directly from the publisher, Allworth Press.

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Craig Manning is currently studying English and Music at Western Michigan University. In addition to writing for, he maintains a pair of entertainment blogs, interns at the Traverse City Business News, and writes for and his college newspaper. He welcomes comments or questions concerning his articles via email, at manningcr953 (at)