Have you noticed that most ebooks released by the major publishers sell for $12.99 to $16.99? And ebooks from smaller publishers usually sell for no more than $9.99?

This is because the big--"traditional"--publishers have no desire to sell you ebooks. In fact the only reason they sell ebooks at all is to comply with contract terms they force down the throats of their authors. To get ebook rights they have to publish ebooks. Sort of. But they don't want those ebooks to sell.

Traditional publishers want to publish traditional paper books. And they do. They don't consider it a book if it's not paper. The investment in paper books is considerable. And once they own at least a few thousand copies of a paper book, they need to sell them. If they're selling ebooks, then they're missing paper sales. And, if they're missing paper sales, they might get stuck with books in boxes clogging their expensive warehouse space. BUT they have to offer ebooks to get ebook rights (which is to say, make sure no one else gets the ebook rights).

So here's what they do in that situation: dramatically overcharge for ebooks to force readers to buy their paper books. Worst that can happen: some died-in-the-wool readers spend way more on a file of electrons than it's worth. Best of both worlds, because the royalty the author gets on ebooks is 10 percent of the net amount the publisher receives from a retailer like Amazon.com, about 65 cents on each $12.99 file of electrons.

Readers are screwed, and authors are screwed. That's because, on a level playing field, ebooks will outsell paper books every time.
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Published on May 16, 2012 19:58 • 211 views • Tags: author-royalty, ebook-pricing
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message 1: by Tom (new)

Tom Burkhalter Hi, Eric -- you might find my blog post on this subject interesting. Drop by the Hickory Aviation Museum website sometime!




message 2: by Eric (new)

Eric Hammel Read your blog, Tom. Agreed on all points.

I launched my career at 15 in 1961, began to be published in the mid-70s, opened my own publishing company in 1985. And how many ways can you spell p-a-r-i-a-h? One day I got the next in a long string of great reviews in Publishers Weekly and Kirkus, followed by they-forgot-my-name.

But no rage. Only satisfaction from taking responsibility for myself. My brand is strong enough to go its own way.

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