Royalty Rates for E-Books: My Take

by John Soares on February 8, 2011

I just wrote an extensive post on my ProductiveWriters.com site about why writers should get a 50% percent royalty (net) on trade paperback and hardcover e-books:

1. Most importantly, publishing is shifting to electronic formats. We all know about Amazon’s Kindle and other e-book readers, and it’s obvious that the future of publishing is digital. This means the publishers’ printing, shipping, and storage costs will only apply to the far fewer physical books that are actually printed.

2. Marketing costs could go way down for publishers. The companies that have the best websites and do the most effective outreach to potential customers online through social media and other channels will have a strong advantage. This could be far cheaper than hiring salespeople and book representatives to visit bookstores and other brick-and-mortar sales outlets.

3. There may come a time — and it could be within 3-5 years or less — when almost all books are digital, with only a few produced physically through print-on-demand.

4. In the digital world, a savvy author can do as much or more to drive book sales than the publisher will.

As some of you may know, I’ve had three hiking guidebooks published by The Mountaineers Books, a mainstream publisher, so that experience, plus my research, is the basis for my 50% royalty rate assertion.

I know many of the readers here at the Writing College Textbook Supplements blog are already textbook authors or hope to be someday. While the arguments in my ProductiveWriters.com post focus on mainstream publishers of trade books, I think that some of the arguments are applicable to the textbook market.

Your Thoughts?

Leave a comment below to share what you think about royalty rates on textbooks, or head to the post on ProductiveWriters.com to share what you think about the broader issue of e-book royalty rates.

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