Growing up, Star Wars Expanded Universe novels were some of my absolute favorite books to collect. While not all were page turners, these “sacred texts” had some of the most captivating sci-fi of their era, with many featuring stories, scenarios and characters more creative than what we got in George Lucas’s six episodic films.
Then Disney bought Lucasfilm, and all of this material was considered non-canon in order for the company to start fresh. But the Expanded Universe books were still being printed under the “Legends” mantra, as many of them are still good stories that have continued to inform the franchise today. “The Mandalorian”, which many consider to be the best “Star Wars” since “The Empire Strikes Back” continually borrows from the EU, utilizing things like Dark Trooper, the Krayt Dragon, and even taking inspiration from the EU’s portrayal of Boba Fett, who has been a fan favorite in Season 2. There’s also the fact that it heavily borrows from the entire Mandalore culture established by author Karen Traviss in the Expanded Universe.
But as is well-documented by news outlets like Polygon and Newsweek, it turns out Disney hasn’t allegedly been paying several EU authors their royalties on these reprints, which is a shame as, despite their being sidelined, they are still hugely popular books. According to Polygon, Disney cites a technicality that they purchased the EU assets, but not their liabilities, and because the rights now reside in a company different than the contract the authors originally signed with, they are not obligated to pay them royalties.
I don’t care. I’m also not obligated to buy EU reprints from Disney.
From a business perspective, I sort of understand why Disney would do this, but it’s not worth the PR backlash that they’re rightfully getting. In the grand scheme of things, EU reprint royalties should be money Disney can stand to lose, and they should be paying anyways — not because they have to, but it’s good PR, and its in their best interests to maintain good relationships with these authors, as they’re tried and true Star Wars veterans the company might need to write for the franchise again, especially as they look to build their own EU.
I do realize my boycott of EU reprints might do relatively little to sway Disney into paying royalties. But it must also be said that all of the titles in question were mass-produced, and many of their original prints are readily available on ebay, in thrift shops and libraries. As a consumer, I, and everyone else who enjoy these books, don’t have to buy prints of these stories that benefit Disney. We’re not obligated to do so.
I hope this changes, especially as “The Mandalorian” and future Star Wars projects seem poised to bring in more elements from the EU. But until it’s clear that the authors of those amazing stories are getting paid their dues, I’m sticking firmly to the secondhand book market, and they haven’t given me much reason to read their canon books.
Disney is most likely in their legal rights to cut these authors out, and it might save them a nominal amount of money by doing do. But as a consumer, I don’t care. Just because you can do something, doesn’t mean you should.