Friday, 16 July 2010

What e book Royalties should authors get?

It's a subject that is causing quite a debate at present both in the UK and the USA and indeed around the world. Now the chair of the Society of Authors, Tom Holland has added his voice to the debate.  He says that  locking writers in for the duration of copyright risk damaging industry and is not 'remotely fair.'

Speaking at the Romantic Novelists' Association's annual conference last week, Holland urged authors to push for ebook royalties that are 'considerably higher' than the standard of around 25%. Although Holland said the market for ebooks is only about 1% of the total UK market, it is 'growing fast' and the Society of Authors believes that, given publishers will eventually have much lower warehousing and distribution costs for ebooks, royalties should be divided 50/50.

He believes that many big-name authors, such as JK Rowling or Dan Brown, will go their own way if the situation is not resolved, which will ultimately damage publishers balance sheets and with less money to invest the outlook for publishing new authors and maintaining a healthy publishing industry is at risk.

Holland says, 'Although publishers 'are inclined to dismiss the argument that costs are reduced on ebooks, once a system has been set up, publishers won't be paying for warehousing, distribution and printing, and we have to ask ourselves what are they spending the money on?

'We accept that publishers have been investing heavily in digital infrastructure and at the moment they are losing money on ebooks because sales are so low.'

'Twenty-five per cent might be reasonable as the infrastructure's set up but only for two years. The risk if we don't do that is that the rate will essentially be set in concrete, it will freeze and be taken as the norm, not just for two to three years but for two to three decades. If we don't fight it now, we will lose our chance to present and make our case, and that will be it.'

Food for thought.  What do authors think about this?  What sort of e book royalty have you been offered?  Are you willing to sign over copyright?

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