EBookNewser has a report on an ongoing disagreement between publishers and agents as to the nature of a “fair” e-book royalty percentage. It seems publishers think that the percentage is 25%, while many agents think it should be 50%.
This comes by way of a survey presented yesterday at Digital Book World by Mike Shatzkin of the Idea Logical Company and Constance Sayre of Market Partners International. Apparently as many as 1/3 of agents claim to have negotiated 50% royalty deals. Furthermore, 90% of agents have clients who are potentially interested in self-publishing.
Certainly, authors such as J.A. Konrath who self-publish through Amazon can end up with 70% royalty rates, which isn’t too bad at all—though it does require the writers to do a lot more work on their own than they would have to do with a publisher’s backing.
Nice as it would be for authors to get higher royalties on their books, I have difficulty imagining most publishers being too happy about letting that camel’s nose into their tent. After all, the industry is struggling right now as it is, and e-books are only going to make up a greater and greater percentage of sales—and thanks to agency pricing, publishers are getting considerably less for an e-book sale than for a paper one already.
But who knows. I suppose it’s always possible that publishers might be able to figure out some way of producing books more efficiently in order to stay afloat—but then again, there’s considerable incentive for them just to go ahead and keep that extra money.