Monthly Archives: November 2011

Tormented by Pirates, Wiley Goes After the Little Fish

Of the many ways for publishers to combat copyright infringement, the one they have been loath to employ is  to sue the end user.  Because some downloaders may be ignorant kids or confused old people, going after them can be a public relations disaster, making the righteous plaintiffs look like corporate bullies and turning the defendants into  folk heroes. But there’s a limit to restraint, and after Bit Torrent users on the demonid.me website illegally downloaded a Dummies book almost 75,000 times, the publisher of the series reached it.

“John Wiley & Sons ,” reports Publishers Weekly, “filed a copyright infringement suit last week in the U.S. District Court for the Southern District of New York involving 27 ‘John Does’ the publisher claims are illegally copying and distributing its For Dummies books through the use of Bit Torrent file sharing software. At present, Wiley only knows the IP addresses and names of the information services providers of the John Does, but a company spokesperson said the intent of the lawsuit is to learn the names of the infringers so the company can contact them to work out a settlement.”

Though Wiley hasn’t actually sued anyone yet, that is clearly an option if one of the John Does becomes a John Screw You.  Lawsuits against end users have been brought by music and movie companies after they exhausted more moderate measures. (See Fileshare This) And though those actions have provoked great outrage by the victims and their libertarian defenders, some pirates have been put out of business and many end users have thought twice before clicking on Download.  But Wiley seems to be a rare instance of such an action in the book industry. For details read Wiley Goes After Bit Torrent Pirates.

For the full archive of E-Reads piracy postings, visit Pirate Central, especially Curtis Agency, E-Reads Launch Program to Neutralize Pirates

Richard Curtis

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How’s Amazon Publishing Doing?

Play nice!

When Amazon selected Laurence Kirshbaum to head its New York-based book publishing initiative, many publishing people greeted the news with unalloyed enthusiasm.The former CEO of the Time Warner Book Group is one of the few truly branded personages traditional publishing and it was hard to imagine a better choice to amalgamate the two cultures of pre- and post-Kindle. It still is, and with the spring 2012 debut of Kirshbaum’s first list we’re ready to welcome it with a cheer.

Not everyone else is, however. Articles describing Amazon’s move from retail partner of publishers and bookstores to feared rival have become a genre of their own, and journalists are vying with each other for purple prose awards. Hide your children. Amazon is coming to get you was the subheadline of an Atlantic Monthly editorial on the subject by Rebecca J. Rosen. Rosen’s remarks typify the terror expressed by fellow pundits: “Amazon’s conquest of every step of a book’s journey into existence is nearing its final stages. First, it pushed out the brick-and-mortar bookstores, shuttering even the giant Borders. Next, with its Kindle it began to step on the toes of book publishers. But now, it is going right for publishers’ hearts: their authors.”

These concerns are far from groundless, but what we have lacked so far is an objective evaluation of Amazon’s performance to date as a publisher.  Given Amazon’s notable secrecy, there’s little point in looking to the company for help.  But Laura Hazard Owen, writing for PaidContent.org, has rendered a masterful analysis drawn from a variety of sources, plus inference, intuition, educated guesswork and good old journalistic shoe leather.

Owen’s conclusion? “Amazon Publishing hasn’t killed print yet.” Like its legacy publishing competitors, Amazon has won some, lost some, and broken even on some others.

In order to play on the same stage as Knopf or Farrar, Straus, there is one major obstacle for Amazon to clear away. It will have to reach out to bookstores and chains, who have been so traumatized by Amazon’s steamroller approach that many, including Barnes & Noble, refuse to buy anything with the Amazon imprint. B&N insists that Amazon retail its titles on the Nook, the same as other trade publishers like HarperCollins or Simon & Schuster are permitted to do.  Amazon needs to woo some major authors away from their traditional homes, says Owen.  But if those writers fear that their books will not be distributed in stores, or that their e-books will not be sold on the Nook, it may be that no amount of money will lure them into Amazon’s camp.

If anyone can successfully navigate these rapids it’s Larry Kirshbaum. But he and his team have their work cut out for them.

The Truth About Amazon Publishing

Richard Curtis

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Publishing Confidential

I was recently asked if it’s commonplace for trade book publishers to have confidentiality language in their contract boilerplate. The short answer is no, but as this answer is appended by many qualifications, I hope you’ll stick around to hear them.

A confidentiality agreement, also known as nondisclosure agreement (NDA for short) is a commitment by a party entering into a legal relationship to refrain from disclosing confidential or proprietary information without the express permission of the other party. Because valuable trade secrets are involved, violation of the terms of an NDA can lead to serious liability. For the reason we urge you to study this specimen NDA and consult with an attorney before entering into one.

But you don’t have to be a lawyer to identify some troubling aspects in the document. Foremost is the exclusivity of the information that is being shared with you. How do you know that the party asking you to sign an NDA has not also disclosed the same information to dozens of other parties? If there’s a leak that you did not cause, will you be blamed for it? Will you be sued for it?

NDAs cover an extended period of time. But when do they expire? When does the protected information become so public that your commitment is meaningless? If you have signed an NDA as an employee of a company and are then hired by another company that makes the same products, are you in danger of being accused of stealing trade secrets? And the information you’re being asked to protect – is it really confidential or can is it well known? What’s a trade secret and what’s garbage or gossip?

By the nature of the relationship between authors and publishers, it’s clear that confidentiality doesn’t sit comfortably. For one thing, a publisher’s contract boilerplate is general if not public knowledge. And as for specific terms, though there is seldom any legal obligation to hold them confidential, it often serves publisher, author, or both not to disclose them. An author who reveals that his publisher granted him an exception to an ironclad policy, or paid him an unprecedented advance, will embarrass his publisher. Thus there is a natural inhibition about spilling the beans about genuinely significant information.

And when the beans are spilled, such as releasing the price paid for a book, it’s done deliberately with the consent of both author and publisher.  And, as everyone knows, such information is not only unreliable but as often as not grossly exaggerated.

A publisher who requires confidentiality of an author may have valid reasons for doing so, but if you’re presented with an NDA it’s a good idea to scrutinize it and ask a lot of questions.

Richard Curtis

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Specimen of Nondisclosure Agreement

CONFIDENTIALITY, NON-CIRCUMVENTION AND NONDISCLOSURE AGREEMENT

AGREEMENT, entered into as of this __ day of ______ between Company X (“X”) and Company Y (hereinafter referred to as the “Recipient”).

WHEREAS, X has developed certain valuable information, concepts, ideas, or designs, which X deems confidential (hereinafter referred to as the “Information”); and

WHEREAS, Recipient is in the business of using such information and wishes to review the Information; and

WHEREAS, X wishes to disclose this Information to the Recipient; and

WHEREAS, the Recipient is willing not to disclose this Information, as provided in this Agreement.

NOW, THEREFORE, in consideration of the foregoing premises and the mutual covenants hereinafter set forth and other valuable consideration, the parties hereto agree as follows:

1. Disclosure. X shall disclose to the Recipient the Information, which concerns but is not limited to ____________________________________________________________
2. Purpose. Recipient agrees that this disclosure is only for the purpose of the Recipient’s evaluation to determine its interest in the commercial exploitation of the Information.
3. Limitation on Use. Recipient agrees not to manufacture, sell, deal in, or otherwise use or appropriate the disclosed Information in any way whatsoever, including but not limited to adaptation, imitation, redesign, or modification. Nothing contained in this Agreement shall be deemed to give Recipient any rights whatsoever in and to the Information. Recipient agrees not to directly or indirectly contact any persons or companies which X may disclose to Recipient and which X deems confidential sources or vendors or to enter into discussion directly or indirectly with such persons or entities except with the approval of X. Recipients shall not directly or indirectly provide access to the Information to others unless such persons to whom such disclose is made are approved by X on a “need to-know” basis and are made subject to this Agreement. Upon the request of X the Information shall be returned to X.
4. Confidentiality. Recipient understands and agrees that the unauthorized disclosure of the Information by the Recipient to others would irreparably damage X. As consideration and in return for the disclosure of this Information, the Recipient shall keep secret and hold in confidence all such Information and treat the Information as if it were the Recipient’s own proprietary property by not disclosing it to any person or entity. Information shall not include Information that was in Recipient’s possession or known to Recipient prior to gaining knowledge from X; or is or becomes lawfully available to the general public without the fault of Recipient; or is or becomes lawfully available to Recipient from a source other than X; or is displayed by Recipient under obligations created by court or government action.
5. Miscellany. This Agreement shall be binding upon and shall inure to the benefit of the parties and their respective legal representatives, successors, and assigns and shall be interpreted in accordance with the laws of the State of New York.

IN WITNESS WHEREOF, the parties have signed this Agreement as of the date first set forth above.

By Officer of X _____________________
By Officer of Recipient __________________________

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A Star Is Born

When Random House decided to relaunch its Loveswept romance line it sought authors whose gifts matched the company’s ambitious vision. And one of the first authors snapped up by publisher Sue Grimshaw for Loveswept’s list of original e-books was Jessica Scott. Today Jessica debuts with Because of You, an unflinching portrayal of two wounded souls struggling with self-doubt and self-loathing to find companionship, trust and, finally, love. Scott knows her military: she’s a career army officer. Read her unique bio here.

The advance raves for Because of You read like a Hall of Fame roster of romance greats.

# “Jessica Scott is an exciting new voice in romantic fiction who bursts upon the scene with an unputdownable debut novel! ”
New York Times Bestselling Author Robyn Carr

# “Edgy and current—and a truly satisfying love story. Put this book, Jessica Scott’s, BECAUSE OF YOU, on your “must read” list.”
New York Times Bestselling Author Suzanne Brockmann

# “Jessica Scott writes with a soldier’s heart. Because Of You is touching, authentic and a fantastic read.”
New York Times Bestselling Author Cindy Gerard

# “Crackling with realism, sizzling with sexual tension, and pulsing with emotion, Jessica Scott has penned an unforgettable military romance that delivers heartache and hope on every page.”
New York Times Bestselling Author Roxanne St. Claire

# “Authentic, emotional, and edgy, Jessica Scott’s sweeping military romance is a vivid snapshot of love, war, grief and–above all–hope.” –
Allison Brennan, NYT Bestselling Author of If I Should Die

# “Because of You is a powerful debut – emotional, heartbreaking and uplifting all at once, it’s a romance not to be missed!”
New York Times Bestselling Author Stephanie Tyler

# “Jessica Scott has written a beautiful love story filled with heart, tender emotion, unflinching honesty and gritty realism. Because of You is a military romance you will never forget!”
New York Times Bestselling Author Christy Reece

Jessica Scott

# “Jessica Scott writes an intense story, packed with realism and emotion. BECAUSE OF YOU will tug at your heartstrings.”
New York Times Bestselling Author
Laura Griffin

# “In BECAUSE OF YOU, Jessica Scott presents a realistic and emotionally gripping tale of life in and around the military. A wonderful debut, and I can’t wait to read the next in this compelling series.”
USA Today Bestselling Author Julie Kenner

# “Watch out Navy SEALS, there’s a new hero in town and he’s wearing Army gray! Because of You is a beautifully crafted, wonderfully emotional debut.”
New York Times Bestselling Author JoAnn Ross

# “BECAUSE OF YOU is a tough and tender romance that proves the one thing worth fighting for will always be true love. Jessica Scott is a vibrant new voice in contemporary romance!”
New York Times Bestselling author of GOODNIGHT TWEETHEART Teresa Medeiros

# “BECAUSE OF YOU is powerful, timely and wonderfully executed. Jessica Scott should be on every reader’s list.”
New York Times and USA Today Bestselling Author Brenda Novak

# Because of You is emotionally heart-wrenching and makes you smile as the characters triumph.
Mandi Schreiner, Happy Ever After – Blog Reviewer, USA Today

# “Military romance just got a whole lot better — Because of You — by Jessica Scott, who has created something sumptuous.”
Anne Woodall, Romance At Random Reviewer

# “I am eagerly awaiting the next installment in her trilogy. I give BECAUSE OF YOU an A.”
E -The BookPushers

Below, a trailer for the book, and an interview with the scintillating author.

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A Flip Tax to Benefit Artists?

Are you an artist? Time to pack up and move to California. There, you can take advantage of their droit de suite law.

Vous ne parlez pas français? It’s worth money, maybe a lot of it, to bone up. The closest we can translate is The Law of Followup, and here’s what it means: if the buyer of your picture or sculpture resells it for a profit, you are entitled to 5% of the resale price.

It’s a law in France and will probably be adopted by all the nations in the European Common Union. Except for California no US state has such a law, and of  course its not on the US statute books.  But some big-name artists  like Chuck Close hope to change that, starting with lawsuits against auction baronies Sotheby’s and Christie’s as well as eBay, the Internet auction website. The class action plaintiffs claim they’ve been stiffed.

“The suits do not specify damages, nor do they list particular sales of art by California residents,” reports the New York Times‘s Patricia Cohen. “Rather, as Eric George, the lawyer who filed them, explained, the complaints seek to force the auction houses to reveal the identities or locations of sellers, information that is often kept secret.”

Cohen says that “Most artists and galleries either don’t know about the law or ignore it.” Too bad: those that do have collected over $300,000 in the 34 years since it was passed.

Would droit de suite work for authors? Since most authors get royalties, it’s hard to see an analogy to resale of artworks – with one exception: library use.  In many foreign countries lending libraries are required to pay a fee or royalty to the author every time a copy is borrowed. It’s called the Public Lending Right, and it’s the law in Canada, the UK, Netherlands, Israel, Scandinavia and other lands. The chances of that happening in the US are slim to none, but it’s nice to know there are some enlightened nations that honor writers and artists.

Artists File Lawsuits, Seeking Royalties

Richard Curtis

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Indigo Sells Kobo for $315 Million

This just in…

An important message from Kobo

As we get ready for what will surely be the biggest ebook holiday season ever, I am writing to share some exciting news. Kobo has accomplished some incredible things in the past two years: over 5 million users in more than 100 countries, great new devices like Kobo Touch and Vox, top-rated apps and cloud-based reading. And now it gets better…

Today, we are happy to announce that Rakuten Inc., one of the world’s leading e-commerce companies, has entered into an agreement to acquire Kobo Inc. from Indigo Books & Music for approximately $315 million. I have attached the full press release below with all of the details about the transaction, and we will be available to answer any questions you have in the coming days. In the meantime, while the news is fresh, I wanted to personally share a few important points about this exciting next step for Kobo.

Still Kobo – Kobo plans to keep its head office in Toronto, operating under the Kobo brand. Our teams in New York, London, Paris, Hamburg, Barcelona and Melbourne will keep going strong. We will continue to function as a stand-alone operation. Our CEO and senior management team will remain unchanged, and our teams for everything from publisher relations to R&D will continue to be filled with the same passionate collection of technology-obsessed book-lovers. Our daily enthusiastic collaboration with publishers and our ongoing relationships with partner retailers will continue as usual.

More competitive – From the very beginning, it has been our goal to be the world’s leading global eReading company. In fulfilling that goal, we are competing against the world’s largest ecommerce company, bookstore chain, hardware company, and search engine. We need scale and resources to continue our winning streak. Rakuten’s position as one of the world’s top 3 e-commerce companies will allow us to be an even stronger competitor in the markets where we currently operate, with access to new resources so that we can continue to push the boundaries of eReading.

Aggressively global –Rakuten’s growing global network of companies, combined with Kobo’s position as the fastest-moving player in international ebooks, means more Kobo in more countries more quickly. We will continue to build on our partnerships with top-tier retailers like WH Smith, FNAC, Media Markt and Collins and look forward to adding more in the months to come.

Business as usual (even faster!) – You will continue to work with the same great group of people, all deeply dedicated to selling your books and promoting your authors. Over time, our hope is that you see us grow even faster, with a continuing focus on innovation in everything from device design to social reading, all with the goal of putting more great books in the hands of readers

Once again, I want to emphasize our continuing commitment to our publishing partners and our shared desire to continue as an even stronger competitive force in the global market for ebooks. If you have any questions at all, do not hesitate to get in touch with Ami Greko at agreko@kobo.com or email me directly at mt@kobo.com.

Sincerely yours,

Michael Tamblyn
Executive Vice President, Content, Sales and Merchandising
Kobo, Inc.

Full Press Release here.

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Kobo Press Release

PRESS RELEASE

Rakuten to Acquire Kobo

Kobo, a Global Leader in eReading Expands Rakuten Offering
to Include eBooks and eReaders Worldwide

TOKYO and TORONTO, November 8/9, 2011 — Rakuten, Inc. (JASDAQ: 4755) and Kobo Inc. today announced that they have entered into a definitive agreement under which Rakuten intends to acquire 100% of total issued and outstanding shares of Kobo for US$315 million in cash.

Kobo was founded by and spun out of Indigo, the largest book, gift and specialty toy retailer in Canada, in December, 2009. Since that time, Kobo has become a fierce competitor in the eBook marketplace, with a family of innovative eReaders, a wide range of eReading apps, one of the largest eBook catalogues, an innovative social platform and retail partners around the globe.

The acquisition marks a major step forward for Rakuten, one of the world’s top 3 e-commerce companies by revenue, as it continues to expand its unique B2B2C borderless e-commerce business globally, by adding an ecosystem to provide downloadable media products to consumers, starting with eBooks.

Hiroshi Mikitani, Chairman and CEO of Rakuten, commented on the acquisition, “We are very excited about this next step. Kobo provides one of the world’s most communal eBook reading experiences with its innovative integration of social media, such as Facebook and Twitter; while Rakuten offers Kobo unparalleled opportunities to extend its reach through some of the world’s largest regional e-commerce companies, including Buy.com in the US, Tradoria in Germany, Rakuten Brazil, Rakuten Taiwan, Lekutian in China, TARAD in Thailand, and Rakuten Belanja Online in Indonesia, and of course, Rakuten Ichiba in Japan.”

“From a business and cultural perspective this is a perfect match,” commented Kobo CEO Michael Serbinis. “We share a common vision of creating a content experience that is both global and social. Rakuten is already one of the world’s largest e-commerce platforms, while Kobo is the most social eBook service on the market and one of the world’s largest eBook stores with over 2.5 million titles. This transaction will greatly strengthen our position in our current markets and allow us to diversify quickly into other countries and e-commerce categories.”

Upon closing the acquisition, Kobo will continue to maintain its headquarters, management team and employees based in Toronto, Ontario.
The global eBook market is one of the fastest growing segments of the consumer technology industry, with a compound annual growth rate of 36% through 2015*. The global content market size is also expected to grow dramatically to reach approximately US$10.6 billion per year by 2015 (estimates exclude China).

*Sources: Based on forecasts by IDC, Yankee, BCG analysis & NRI for Japan 1USD= 80JPY

The transaction is subject to customary closing conditions, including approval by Canadian regulatory authorities in accordance with the Investment Canada Act and is expected to close in Q1 2012.

About Kobo Inc. (www.kobo.com)
Kobo is a global eReading service with more than 2.5 million eBooks, magazines and newspapers – one of the largest eReading catalogues in the world. Read Freely – Kobo believes consumers should have the freedom to read any book on any device and has attracted millions of readers from over 100 countries across the globe. Kobo has top ranked eReading applications for iPad, iPhone, BlackBerry, Android, Windows and MacOS, and is the eReading application of choice for leading tablet OEMs. Kobo eReaders, including the Kobo Touch and the newly launched Kobo Vox are available at leading retailers, including Indigo, Wal-Mart, Best Buy, Target, Future Shop, WHSmith, FNAC, Collins Booksellers and Whitcoull’s. Kobo’s innovative Reading Life is an industry-first comprehensive social eReading experience – Kobo users can earn awards simply for time spent reading and encouraging others. Kobo is backed by majority shareholder Indigo Books & Music Inc., Cheung Kong Holdings, and institutional investors.

About Rakuten
Rakuten, Inc. (JASDAQ: 4755), is one of the world’s leading Internet service companies, providing a variety of consumer and business-focused services including e-commerce, travel, banking, securities, credit card, e-money, portal & media, online marketing and professional sports. Rakuten is expanding globally and currently has operations throughout Asia, Western Europe, and the Americas. Founded in 1997, Rakuten is headquartered in Tokyo, with over 10,000 employees worldwide. For more information, visit http://global.rakuten.com/group.

For investor and media inquiries, please contact:

Rakuten:
In Japan:
Public Relations (Japanese, English)
Rakuten, Inc.
Tel: +81-50-5817-1104
E-mail: pr@mail.rakuten.com

For Investors:
Investor Relations (Japanese, English)
Rakuten, Inc.
Tel: +81-3-6387-0555
http://corp.rakuten.co.jp/en/ir/

In North America
Kelley Joyce
IF Communications
Tel: +1-917-566-0808
E-mail: kelley@if-communications.com

Kobo:
Wendy Zaas
Rogers & Cowan
Tel: +1-310-854-8148
E-mail: wzaas@rogersandcowan.com

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Attention Big Six – Time to Revise Those E-Royalty Rates?

Jennifer Weltz

If, at any time after the effective date of this Agreement, US trade publishing industry electronic media royalties paid to authors are a higher percentage of the amount received by Publisher than those paid to Author under the terms of this Agreement, upon written request from Author this subparagraph will be deemed amended to such higher percentage.

The above text is an amalgam of boilerplate provisions found in the contracts of many publishers. It is a compromise reached in negotiations between publishers and agents as they hammered out a modus vivendi between the former’s wish to lock in a low e-book royalty and the latter’s insistence on a higher one. With such language installed into contracts, agents can monitor royalty rates in the book industry and, if it appears they are rising above the current threshold of 25% of net receipts, invoke the language entitling authors to the higher royalty promised in the contract.

Jennifer Weltz, a leading agent, thinks the time has come to invoke that provision and gives her reasons on AARdvark, an online forum of the Association of Authors’ Representatives.  She has kindly agreed to let us reprint it here.

*******************************

Alert – E-Book Industry Standards have Changed!

Dear Colleagues in the industry, remember all of those clauses we have in our contracts regarding e-books? The ones that say that when Industry standards change we will all be renegotiating new e-book rights? Well that time is now. E-book industry standards have changed.

Why have we not heard this news from our publishers?

Think of the number of contracts you have with that clause and then multiply it by x. This is the number of clauses that would have to be modified by publishers if they admitted to this obvious change. From a publisher’s perspective, the only possible change they would concede would be one where they would be raising the 25% royalty rate and overnight their profits would plummet. As you can imagine, this is not an attractive prospect.

Have industry standards changed? Yes

Will we first hear this from the publishers? No

What are these changes?

Well, there are, of course, the many emerging publishers doing business in the publishing world who offer much more lucrative e-book royalties. But they offer low advances or no advances. However we are starting to see that when publishers want a project enough, they find workable solutions with agents that are not the straight 25% we were given to believe was the 11th commandment. We are even seeing, the big publishers, developing creative e-book royalty solutions where rights were not clearly delineated in the original contract. And we are seeing authors make drastic choices, especially if they know that their books perform well in the e-book format – jumping ship, and working with the new publishers on the block who offer them a fairer piece of the pie.

What else has changed?

We are now often at 50% or more of total books sold for a particular title. When e-book royalties were first set at 25%, e-books were a fraction of the market (please refer to the many analyses that have been done over the years on the growth of the e-book industry). E-books are no longer a fringe subsidiary right but an essential format, just like print paperback and hardcover. I would even argue that e-book is the predominant format in the US, because, regardless of whether a book is published in hard cover, soft cover or in print at all, you can bet that practically every single US publisher acquiring rights to a new book today, will be releasing it as an e-book. The e-book format is the one guaranteed format for all of our future books. It has arguably swallowed up the custom of multiple print formats. In other words, whatever the print format for your first publication of a book may be, the future will see e-book as your second and possibly the only other format for your book. This is a major industry shift that has happened this year and publishers are now debating how best to handle it. Does this mean that we should only publish in Hard Cover and E-books or just Trade paperback and e-books? Forget about mass market! What we are seeing here is clearly an industry shift. This is a changed industry. Industry standards have changed.

Now what about the problems our publishers face if they admit to this change? Should we care?

I say yes, because, when we all agreed to these delightful industry standard clauses, we neglected to realize how we were painting ourselves into a corner. As Paul Aiken from The Author’s Guild pointed out in his article “Inertia, unfortunately, is embedded in the contractual landscape. If the publisher were to offer more equitable e-royalties in new contracts, it would ripple through much of the publisher’s catalog: most major trade publishers have thousands of contracts that require an automatic adjustment or renegotiation of e-book royalties if the publisher starts offering better terms… Given these substantial collateral costs, publishers will continue to strongly resist changes to their e-book royalties for new books.”

Should we then accept the status quo and abandon hope of ever effecting change with the big publishers?

This is not a solution because, by not demanding change, we not only create an unfair structure for our authors, we also allow authors to more easily abandon traditional publishers when we know this means losing out on the editorial, marketing and publishing help that these professionals do so well when they try.

Many have examined the e-book royalty math extensively and so I will only say that we must look at the origins of the Hard Cover 15% of list royalty. How did publishers, agents and authors come up with this percentage? Well, when you deduct the discount given to booksellers off the list price and the cost of producing a print book, half of the remaining proceeds roughly comes to 15% list. In other words, 50% net.

Consequently, the concept of offering 50% of the revenue is a long standing industry standard for Hard Cover royalties.

What is the solution?

Let’s take another look at Hard Cover royalties. While the lucky few are able to get a straight 15% hard cover royalty for their authors, this has not become the industry standard. Escalators are the standard and it is in escalators that we find the solution to the e-book royalty dilemma. With escalators, we can at last accommodate books whose sales do not justify a big piece of the pie and should stay at 25% as well as rewarding those authors whose major sales are happening in e-books. Escalators would allow everyone, including the authors and creators of the work, to share in success once the justified overhead costs are amortized.

This should be our new industry standard for e-books and it should not cause a massive shift in revenue for our publishers except for books that have earned it.

Now is the time to call our publishers and let them know. Remember that clause about e-book industry standards changing? Well now they have. That time is now.

Let me know what you think. Send me a Tweet at either @jvnla or @digitaar

*********************

As Vice President of JVNLA [Jean V. Naggar Literary Agency], Jennifer Weltz has sold books domestically, internationally, and for film for nearly two decades. Coming from a mediation background, Jennifer sees herself as a liaison between her author and the editor and publishing house that acquire her author’s work. This role takes on a myriad of forms — business manager, confidant, task master, preliminary editor, and matchmaker — to name a few. Since Jennifer takes up an author’s career and not just a project, she is very careful and selective about signing on new authors.

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