The Kindle and other e-readers may have made e-books popular, but authors and publishers are still concerned about e-book royalties. Image from Wikimedia Commons.

Many people love the fact that books can be downloaded electronically to a digital book-reader. However, authors and publishers the world over are complaining e-book royalties are too low.

Authors get better deal from Amazon

Last year, according to The Guardian, book publishers and authors won a key concession from In January of 2010, Amazon announced that it would offer authors up to 70 percent of the proceeds of the sale and download of certain e-books, minus the cost of transferring the data. The standard royalty for e-books will still apply for some, which is about half that. Amazon was afraid of being beaten out Apple, which was rumored to offer a 70/30 split for developers that sold Apps through the Apple App Store. However, Amazon is only offering the 70/30 deal on books that cost less than $10, are priced 20 percent below the normal cost of the book and authors can’t offer the book to any other e-book service for less.

Royalties benefit biggest sellers

However, Amazon’s offer also only applies to authors and publishers based in the United States who only sell their book in countries where they have rights to do so. Authors in the United Kingdom, according to the Guardian, only receive up to 25 percent of the royalties from publishers on sales of e-books. That extends the entire life-span of the copyright. According to Teleread, a number of publishing companies in the U.S. and the U.K. are trying to get e-book sellers like Amazon and Apple to agree to an “escalator” system, where authors receive a greater share as their books sell more copies. That would certainly bode well for authors who sell a lot of books. According to Forbes, only 275 adult e-book titles and 83 younger-than adult titles sold more than 10,000 copies in 2010. However, some authors are cutting out the middleman and selling their e-books directly. John Locke, according to The Telegraph, sold more than 1 million e-books on Amazon without a publisher by pricing his books at 99 cents per copy. That isn’t the John Locke whose writings inspired the American Revolution; his books are free on Gutenberg.

Royalties from Apple rotten

Apple, along with five of the “big six” publishers, are currently being sued in a class action suit for price fixing on e-books, according to PCPro. Simon and Schuster, Hatchett, Macmillan, HarperCollins and Penguin, along with Apple, are accused in the suit of collaborating together to raise prices of e-books through Apple, according to Wired. The idea, allegedly, would be to get publishers to stop offering books to Amazon, because they would get a bigger cut from Apple. Amazon’s introductory price used to be $9.99 for new fiction and non-fiction titles from major publishers. Prices on Amazon have risen.


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