I was sent an interesting link to an online article; the UK answer to the Author’s Guild in this country has put the word out that the Society of Authors will be looking at the ebook royalty rate with European publishers. The goal, specifically, is to get the going rate raised to something that’s a bit more fair.
Welcome to a discussion that’s been going on in this country for a while now. And new SoA chair Lindsay Davis is picking up where her predecessor left off in the UK. The Author’s Guild has weighed in on this debate. And we’re no closer to an answer.
Publishers are still fighting a higher royalty rate — ebook rates currently sit at 10 – 12%, along with print copies — because they insist that their costs per ebook are close to the same as with print. Which can be true to a degree. Ebooks and print copies, be they hard cover or paperback, still require the services of assorted story and copy editors, marketing teams, and cover and layout artists. The only difference between the two is that with print copies, you also have to add in the printing and binding costs. But if you pin a publisher down, these costs rarely go above $2 – 3 per copy. So, what’s the hang up?
The real fuss is the retail, or suggested list price, of each. Ebooks are cheaper than their print cousins — usually coming in at $9.99 – 12.99 per copy. Print books can dance around that — hardcovers usually come in at around twice the cost and paperbacks will come in at slightly less. The publishers rationale is that they will make less money on ebooks and therefore the royalty rates should not be raised to a fair commensurate. Publishers insist that because their costs are the same, if they give a higher royalty on ebooks, they’ll be taking a loss.
The truth of this can be just as confusing. Which is going to make more money — selling ten books for $20 or twenty books for $10.00? With e-readers such as the new versions of the Kindle and Nook catching fire, we’ve seen a significant increase in ebook sales this year alone. The estimate was that 25% of all books sold would be ebooks by 2012, but it now appears that that amount might just double in the next month. After all, Christmas time is here and what better gift to give than a Kindle or Nook.
But with ebooks becoming the next big thing, authors are now telling publishers, “I really don’t need you; what will you give me to stick around?” Thanks to Amazon’s KDP (Kindle Digital Publishing), Barnes & Noble’s PubIt, and Smashwords, authors don’t have to deal with the industry gatekeepers. They can publish their own ebooks and pocket 70% royalty rates. With the dwindling services being provided by these same publishers, authors are doing more and more of their own promotion and sales anyway — so who needs the publisher?
Lexington, are you an author? Do you publish through a traditional publisher or do you independently publish your own? Where do you stand on this topic? Comment below and tell me what you think!
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