Amazon offers publishers pre-iSlate Kindle bribes
More for authors, too
Amazon has announced it will give a 70 per cent cut of retail price to publishers who make their books Kindle friendly.
The figure is around double what a publisher currently gets, but the deal requires books to be priced at least 20 per cent below the dead-tree edition. Between three and ten dollars, the book must also be compatible with text-to-speech and any other functionality Amazon decides to throw into the Kindle in the future.
Amazon also deducts the cost of delivery, at 15 cents a megabyte, so a typical book will cost (the publisher) about 6 cents to deliver. That means the publisher of a $8.99 book will get $6.25 in pocket, rather more than the $3.15 the same publisher can currently expect.
The new deal will be available for books sold in the USA from June 30th, and only for Kindle titles obviously. But combined with Amazon's Kindle Digital Text Platform - which allows anyone with an e-mail account to sell eBooks for the Kindle - it should generate greater interest in self-publishing and put more titles on the shelf, for better or worse.
Amazon also reckons it will mean a bigger cut for authors, estimating that today an author will get between seven and fifteen per cent of the sale price, or about a quarter of what the publisher sees. But it's worth remembering that the bigger publishers negotiate their own fees with retailers like Amazon, so probably already get more than the listed cut.
Offering such a large bribe for Kindle-friendly content is going to raise eyebrows in the industry, and should certainly ensure that the Kindle platform proves a worthy opponent to Adobe's Digital Editions, even if Amazon produces the only compatible hardware. ®
I agree that publishers aren't useless and they do quite a bit to make a book out of some text. But still this is just a service and not something that should earn them a larger part of the profits than the author gets. The major thing that a publisher does is to get the thing onto the shelves of the bookstores and while this is also just a kind of service this is one you can hardly get elsewhere. Self-publishing a book is lots of work, but possible. Selling it is almost impossible.
The thing is that in fact books are just products for a certain market and the publishers treat the authors as suppliers of a minor service to these products they (the publishers) produce. And it is this market that starts shaking right now. Authors won't go away and readers won't go away but nobody can say who will be between them in the future.
Publishers aren't useless
Most publishers do a lot more than merely act as a filter for the slushpile. You might not notice the proofreading and editing that goes into a book, but when it's absent it really shows.
I was present at a talk by one of Harper Collins' publishers, and she gave a detailed run-down of exactly what the do for their money. It's a lot. Granted, things like foreign rights sales and marketing aren't all about making a better finished product. But for an author it's not always the bad deal that the percentages make it appear.
Maybe Apple will do this with their forthcoming iPad
You're absolutely right.
I recently had a paper book published: the publisher will give me 10% of the price they sell the book for, which is typically 2/3 of the list price, so I'm getting about 7% of the list price. As I understand it, authors typically get between 5% and 15%.
We specifically left eBooks out of our agreement because the publisher hasn't decided what to do about eBooks yet, and I think the author should get a bigger cut from an eBook. We'll see what happens.
Maybe Apple will tap into the huge market you have identified.
Soon to be one of those endangered species I think, certainly if I was an author deriving any wodges from ebooks I would be considering my options and my publishers cut rather closely.
... the iSlate/iPad/iLash/iWhatever isn't even announced yet and the marketplace is changing.
Like 'em or loathe 'em (you can't ignore 'em)*, Apple certainly have some influence...