Didn’t believe it when I said the i-pad was going to have a swift, negative effect on writers? Normally I’m not the “I told you so” type, but have you heard the latest? Amazon, which initially told MacMillan no to a proposed price hike for its books on Kindle, has reversed course and said okay. In case you haven’t connected the dots, MacMillan is among the first publishers to have signed a deal with Apple’s new i-pad “bookstore.”
To borrow a line from former President Nixon, let me make this perfectly clear: Publishers are not going to make money selling our books at ten dollars a pop, even though they get nine and we get one. You would think they might be satisfied with that profit margin, given how selling books electronically completely subtracts the expense of paper publishing. Alas, a corporation is a corporation. Why settle for nine when they can have 18? And why should we, the authors, have a problem with that? Isn’t two dollars profit better than one? I suppose, but it’s not nearly as much better as going from nine to 18 dollars. If publishers want to retain the current status quo, that being that we write the books and they sell them, they must renegotiate our contracts, because a 90/10 split is beyond ridiculous.
Used to be, when we signed with a publisher, we worked with a content editor and a copy editor. Once published, our books were marketed to the masses via bookstores, magazine ads, book tours, etc. Unless you’ve been living under a LOST hatch for the past 20 years, you know none of those things are part of the deal anymore. It’s up to us, the authors, to do it all. Yet publishers’ profit margins continue to increase while ours remains a lowly ten percent.
I guess I’m nostalgic today, because an old Beatles’ song is blaring in my mind: You say you want a revolution . . .