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Old 10-18-2005, 12:08 PM   #1
Colin Dunstan
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Greedy publisher cashes in with e-books

According to Smart Bitches, Toronto-based Harlequin is offering book authors who agreed to be published in e-book format a lousy six percent in royalties. Harlequin is one of the biggest publishers of series romance and women's fiction and has recently announced the launch of its e-book program in partnership with Lightning Source, eReader.com and OverDrive.

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A little bird told me that Harlequin is now offering 6% royalties on e-Books. Apparently, this is non-negotiable. The typical royalty rate for other e-publishers? 30-50%. Now, I’m wondering: why the discrepancy? Also: is the royalty rate for books that are offered both in paper and e-book format, or is it the rate for books that are going to be offered primarily as e-books, a la Ellora’s Cave? If the former, 6% would be pretty typical for paperback books, but if the latter--well, that’s pretty Scrooge-a-riffic.
In other words, Harlequin and other publishers don't want to sell e-books at reduced rates, all the while they keep the addititional revenues for producing at considerably lower costs to themselves. Why doesn't it surprise me that e-books fail to take off?

[via Tobias S. Buckell]
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Old 10-18-2005, 06:37 PM   #2
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Colin Dunstan
In other words, Harlequin and other publishers don't want to sell e-books at reduced rates, all the while they keep the addititional revenues for producing at considerably lower costs to themselves. Why doesn't it surprise me that e-books fail to take off?
That's just it: They don't want eBooks to take off. eBooks becomming mainstream means the death (by irrelevance) of publishers.

Today, an author needs a publisher to print and distribute his book. Tomorrow, the author simply uploads it to his eStore of choice, puts a chapter up on his web site (or blog) to promote it, and rakes in the purchases without the middleman.
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Old 10-18-2005, 07:04 PM   #3
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Apparently, used books have publishers worried too, and they want a cut of used books sales as well as moratoriums on selling a title as used within a certain period of time after it is published.

NPR has a good article where this is discussed in the October 12, 2005 Technology Podcast (RSS Feed).
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Old 10-19-2005, 04:26 PM   #4
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Originally Posted by Brian
Apparently, used books have publishers worried too, and they want a cut of used books sales as well as moratoriums on selling a title as used within a certain period of time after it is published.
I don't often rail about the greed of media, but this is one thing that really irks me. The music industry made waves about used CD stores a few years ago but shut up pretty quickly.

In this context it makes the reluctance to embrace electronic distribution confusing, as it is far easier to turn electronic media into a pay-per-view scheme than traditional media.

Many years ago I read an interview in which a movie studio executive (and I can't remember where I read it, unfortunately) said that the dumbest thing the studio's ever did was allow people to own their content. This mentality pervades to this day.
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