Friday, February 29, 2008

A Better Deal from Digital Publishing?

Kate Pullinger in the Guardian reckons all authors have a lot to learn about royalties in the digital future from the Hollywood screenwriters strike (left).

In a nutshell, authors receive royalties of only between 7.5 - 10% of the cover price of a print book. The rest of the money goes to pay myriad costs:
...editing, book design including cover, any advertising including the publisher's catalogue, printing, paper, shipping and other distribution transport costs, warehousing, and the surprisingly large cut taken by the retailer. Oh yes, and profits. I know that it is said that the way to make a million in publishing is to start with £10m, but somebody out there is making some money out of publishing, trust me.
Although:
A few fundamental and important costs remain, such as editorial, design, advertising and creating the digital file ...
Most of these costs do not apply, of course, to the digital version of the product. There are :
No more warehouses, no more lorries full of books trundling up and down the land, no more paper and printing and ink, no more acres of expensive retail space. ...
Shouldn't authors therefore be paid more for their work? Should they be jumping up and down in protest? There's a lively discussion going on in the comments to the post with publishers and editors among those sharing their views.

Whatever the truth of it, this is a debate that clearly needs to happen and it isn't going to go away any time soon.

4 comments:

Clare Tanner said...

We have just launched a new website called http://www.bookhabit.com due to thinking that authors can and should be paid more. We pay authors 40% of each sale. (Paypal charges amount to approx 20% and Bookhabit gets the remainder for the website, promotional costs etc). We believe ebooks are very close to going the same way as itunes. It makes sense - the international market, the ability to write with a niche style or on a specialist topic, immediacy, low cost, and they don't have the same costs that a printed book has. There is also a competition for US$5000 starting on 3 March.

Clare Tanner said...

Hopefully this link will work www.bookhabit.com

bibliobibuli said...

thanks so much for this really interesting link. i think malaysian authors may well be interested since it is so hard for them to get their works to an international audience. i wish you all the best with the project.

btw why don't you have a category for literary fiction? that's what i look for first

Clare Tanner said...

Added!