Thursday, October 29, 2009

Talking About e-Book Royalties

Publishers Marketplace had an item in yesterday's lunch:
Macmillan ceo John Sargent wrote to agents earlier this week to present for the first time a new standardized boilerplate contract across all of the trade publisher's imprints and divisions that the company intends to introduce as of November 9, featuring a number of comprehensive changes in their basic business terms.
Agent Richard Curtis actually posted a link to Sargent's letter on his blog here (You'll have to scroll down to 10/28).

The New York Big Six have been offering authors e-book royalties of 25% of the net receipts (publishers usually receive about 50% of the list price). So on a $15 e-book, the publisher's net is $7.50 and the writer gets $1.88 of that.

Sargent said that all Macmillan imprints were going to a "single royalty rate" which would "apply to all exploitation of the content of the book in digital form." Curtis reported that Macmillan planned to go to 20% of net, reducing the author's share from $1.88 to $1.50 per e-book.

The New York Times had this to say about Mr. Curtis' stance:
Richard Curtis . . . said the difference between Macmillan’s standard e-book royalty and other publishers was not the point. “The point is whether we should be playing on such a low ballfield at all,” Mr. Curtis said, “and whether the industry should not really be thinking about a 50 percent royalty of net receipts.” He argued that because the cost to publishers of producing e-books was so low, authors should get a higher proportion of sale proceeds.
Interesting how Macmillan is in such a rush to lock in e-book royalty rates.

Read the New York Times article here.

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