Blogger: Mary Keeley
Location: Books & Such Midwest Office: IL
The continuous evolution of e-book publishing and its surrounding causes and effects warrant occasional updates. What do the latest shifts mean for authors and publishers? Here are two newsworthy comments:
- As of its post on May 2011, Amazon now sells more e-books than print books, according to Jeff Bezos, Amazon’s CEO. They were hoping for this but never expected it to happen in less than four years.
- Steve Haber, president of Sony’s digital reading unit, predicted in 2007 that it would take ten years for e-books to outsell paper books. Last year he said, “Three years ago, I said within ten years but I realized that was wrong – it’s within five.” I’ve seen several other quotes that corroborate his revised estimate.
When charting new waters, it’s to be expected that there will be some reluctance, maybe even distrust, and that certainly has been true with e-books. For example, authors generally are disappointed in the 25 percent royalty rate that has become the standard in the industry for e-book sales. Perceptions are that publishers are unfairly claiming the bulk of savings in creating e-books rather than print books.
But wait, the publishers see the situation differently. Brian Murray, CEO of Harper Collins, is quoted on TheBookseller.com: “When we looked at our print royalties, we saw they averaged about 16%-18% so we knew we could afford to pay a higher royalty rate [for e-books]. That was almost a 40 percent increase in the royalty rate. There is a lot we can do to give readers additional value, such as enhanced e-books. Because they sell for a higher price that is, in turn, going to raise the pay for authors.”
A lot of authors would argue with Mr. Murray’s perspective, and publishers are under pressure by agents to increase the e-book royalty rates. It’s all a roller coaster.
Rachel Kent posted an important series of blogs last week about putting the C (Christian) back in CBA. As Christian publishers: 1) observe the effect Amazon Publishing may cause for ABA publishers (which I wrote about in yesterday’s post); 2) respond to the competition with independent e-book publishers (55 such publishers listed in a Google search but surely more than that exist); and 3) uphold Christian ethics, I trust they will be motivated to make deals that are a win-win for both parties. Christian publishers are rushing to find a model that will keep them profitable through several waves of change taking place simultaneously, while also attracting—and retaining—authors. We look forward to that happening. They are the guardians that ensure the Christian message is told.
The thing that remains the same is the content. While the delivery method continues to evolve, great writing will always be in demand. Keep growing and writing great books, and you will have increasing options to get them out to readers.
How do you feel about the 25 percent royalty rate for e-book sales?
Have you signed a contract that has a higher or lower rate? (Don’t give the name of the publisher or disclose any contractual terms that are proprietary!)
In your dreams, do you still see your next published book in a print version?