Concessions–Author Book Contracts

>The New York Observer discusses the Amazon format and the Netflix “Oyster” program. Anyone who has a book currently listed with Amazon, which I imagine involves most of us, should read this article, as its message is incredibly important to all writers hoping to earn something from their books’ publication.

As I interpret “things,” one of the prime contentions book “listers” maintain is the problem with personal lending. For as long as I can remember, it’s been bandied about that the average paperback is passed around eight times before it’s so dog-eared, etc., that it’s no longer serviceable. Of course, a digital book could be lent ad infinitum, regardless of the use of the various levels of DRM embeds that attempt to eliminate lending to one degree or another. But it’s the number of “lends” that enables publishers to justify charging libraries on average four times the retail for a standard-edition hardcopy, so any discussion of this matter has many ramifications.

For a DRM-protected book to be lent, the simple fact is that this requires the lending of the reading device, which in and of itself puts much of this side of the equation to rest. But what does it do to the metric for those people who are gifted books but never read them, which happens all the time? No page openings equate to zero authors’ earnings. Is this fair? Okay, throw “fair” out of the conversation. Should this be acceptable? It’s certainly not for me. Authors have no say-so in this; and. I’ll be discussing authors’ rights, or the lack of them, in the article that accompanies this broadcast. I ask subscribers to roll their ideas around in their minds and please pass them on to me so I can post them in an upcoming edition. It truly seems to me that we writers are being expected to view our efforts as solely altruistic gestures with no expectations of financial gain outside of a mere pittance–for which we should be most grateful.

Granted, very few books make money for publishers, but the current business model has writers making all the concessions. The problem is, at some point, authors without a substantial following will no longer write, and my guess is that we’ll see more “dead” writers–as I alluded to in a recent Newsletter–kicking out book after book. If not, how else will mainstream publishers find writing talent? It’s become such an acute problem that even published clients of mine are considering going it alone, no different from what I did with my book of articles.

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