Ebooks: Are authors being ripped off? – Chris Longmuir
I don’t usually study the business section in my local newspaper, but a recent report on one of the big publishers, I won’t name any names, caught my eye. What the report said was – the publisher “reported increased operating profits during the final quarter. Despite a 2% year-on-year fall in volume, the publisher said margins had been boosted by the lower relative cost of publishing ebooks in the new digital environment. In turn, the increased proportion of online sales led to a reduced rate of returns.” The report went on to say “ebook sales continued to show increased market share in the UK, growing 58% year-on-year during the four months to the end of December.”
Hang on a minute though. I’ve been eyeball to eyeball with various publishers and they all sing to the same tune when you confront them with the lesser costs of digital publishing. Not so, they say. There is no saving. There is still the editing, the proofing, the marketing, and the publicity (what publicity? I think to myself, it’s nonexistent except for the big boys). Anyway, the list is endless of the things they can think up to justify the measly 15%, 20%, or if you’re extremely lucky 25% royalties, they offer to give you for the honour of having them publish your novel as an ebook.
However it would seem, if the business report I read is to be believed, that the publishers are bolstering their publishing houses with the profits from the aforesaid non-profitmaking ebooks. Now, far be it for me to accuse anyone of profiteering from an author’s work, but it did put the question in my mind – are we being ripped off by these very honourable publishing businesses. Well, what do you think?
Oh, and I’m afraid I always like to have the last word, so I’m just going to say that it’s no wonder many authors are now turning to the Indie route and publishing their own ebooks, and I wonder just how long it will be before the publishers have noticed how many of their authors have fled the nest!