Friday, August 26, 2011

Are eBooks Bad for Authors?

I read a post about the rise of eBooks and the potential fall of authors as an outcome. One of the premises of the article was that eBooks will bring about the downfall of writers forced to accept subpar wages in exchange for their work. I found this premise interesting and mulled it over.

First, I know many authors don't have access to some of the information I have access to. I also don't know what are the arrangements for eBook payments in traditional publishing; but here is why I don't agree. The rise of eBooks has been driven by increased demand. In a capitalistic society, increased demand means increased prices. Just look at the average cost of an eBook just two years ago. The average eBook cost perhaps $3.99 on the high side. Now the average eBook on Amazon costs $9.99. When you consider that for every 100 print books sold today 200 eBooks are sold on Amazon, that's a big leap. eBook royalties at 3L Publishing are very high -- although I will not disclose them on my blog for competitive purposes. Our authors, though, make high eBook royalties, because we're a hybrid publisher that partners with our authors. The overhead costs to produce and distribute an eBook are substantially reduced, which means the author's return on investment (ROI) or break-even point comes at a fast rate. I certainly can't speak for traditional publishers and their royalties and the fallout in terms of lower royalties because of lower cost.

What I can say is that independent publishers like 3L that are doing business outside of the box in new and innovative ways with high returns for authors will make a greater impact on the marketplace. With more authors joining forces with the likes of 3L, it will force the industry to make positive changes. To continue to believe that with the rise of the eBook that traditional publishers will not be forced to rethink their practices; and distributors will find their business reduced, and as a result, may be forced under. Many distributors and publishers in general use some pretty archaic business practices with the use of "returns" as a true racket. We recently pulled out of our distribution agreement and are in negotiations with a new top-notch distributor for this very reason. All of this combined will create the perfect storm that will so greatly impact the industry that authors can expect serious reform. And what I do know is that this reform will be in the author's best interests not the other way around.

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