According to a Wall Street Journal article, they got an advance look at the Authors Guild's new website. The article states that the Authors Guild will hold a press conference at the Algonquin Hotel in New York on Monday morning to announce they will be releasing their own retail website in the second half of 2012. This website will allow the authors they represent to bypass eBook distributors, such as Amazon, and sell directly to the public.
This is a great article and Iím surprised the Big Six publishers havenít tried to do something similar. I tried to add a link to the Journalís story, but it is one of those annoying pay links and I canít find a non-pay link to the story (if you have a WSJ subscription try the Pay Article
), but here is what the article said <i>in my own words</i> (moderators, this is not a copyright violation)ó
The Authors Guild will announce Monday morning that they have developed a website to allow its members to sell eBooks directly to the public, and authors will receive 100% of the royalties on sales. Yes, that's correct, 100% royalties. The Authors Guild hopes that members of the public who want to support their favorite authors will take this into consideration when deciding on where to make a purchase. All right, there is some fine print on these royalties, but it is pretty reasonable.
The website will work similarly to any other online retailer, where you can search on an author's name or on the title of a book. Books will also be rated and reviewed by the public, but the books will also contain an additional rating that the public can view but that only authors (i.e. Authors Guild members) can vote upon.
The website will also include "special sections" that feature the work of selected authors (e.g. books displayed on the front page of the website), or that show similar books to the one that is being viewed, or sections where authors pick their favorite authors and books, or sections displaying what other readers purchased, etc. It is these "special sections" of the website that will finance the website.
When a reader searches the Authors Guild website specifically for an author or book title then the author receives 100% of the sales price of any books the reader buys. However, if the reader buys a book because it was displayed in one of the "special sections" then the author will receive 70% of the sales price and the website will receive 30%. Additionally, authors will not be displayed in these "special sections" unless they explicitly opt-in to have their books displayed in them. Since the Author's Guild is a non-profit organization all money raised will go back into supporting the authors in the guild, so ultimately 100% is returned to the authors in one way or another.
An additional benefit of purchasing eBooks through the Authors Guild is that none of their eBooks contain DRM. All books will be available as either non-DRMed ePub files (e.g. Apple and B&Nís format), or non-DRMed mobi files (i.e. Amazon's book format). Additionally, purchasers actually own the books they buy, and they can transfer ownership to other individuals.
When an eBook is purchased through an online retailer, such as Amazon, the eBook is usually encrypted so that it can only be read on a device owned by the purchaser (i.e. the file has DRM). The purchaser cannot give or sell this eBook to anyone else, as only devices owned by the purchaser can read the eBook. However, eBooks bought from the Authors Guild are different. Instead of DRM the eBooks will contain pages at the beginning and ending of the book that contain the name and email address of the purchaser along with a unique identifying number. This won't stop Piracy, but should be enough to stop casual copyright violators from uploading a file to the internet. Note: J.K. Rowlingís Pottermore website was the inspiration behind this protection scheme.
The Authors Guild website also allows users to transfer ownership of an eBook they own to another user. They just go to the website and enter the name of the new owner, and the Authors Guild website will email the new owner a copy of the book containing his or her name and email address. The original owner is trusted to be honest and to delete his copy of the eBook from his device, and only the current owner can transfer ownership. In other words, you can only transfer ownership to one person, but the new owner can still give it away if he or she desires.
Lastly, eBooks whose rights are owned by traditional publishers will also be available on the Authors Guild website. This is to ensure that all books available to the public will also be available through the Authors Guild website, but only "authors" are eligible for royalties of 100%. Publishers selling their books through the Authors Guild website do so at the standard 70% and 30% split. However, the entire 30% split is returned back to the eBook's author, so the authors still make substantially more when the public buys through the Authors Guild website as opposed to another distributorís website. (If a publisher's eBook was purchased because of a link from a "special section" then the Authors Guild website will retain 15%.)
To see a preview of what this new site will look like please visit http://AuthorsGuild.com/retail
The last paragraph is where they reveal that probably 98% of the books on the site will actually be the same 70/30 split that occurs on Amazon and Apple, but I guess the authors still get more royalties when people buy through the Author Guild website. Personally, I don't think they were being completely honest about the 100% royalties. However, it still looks like a great deal for the authors.