Tuesday, November 18, 2014

After The Ball Is Over

Simon and Schuster, Hachette Book Group, and Amazon are now friends. Or frenemies. The dance of dominance is over and the parties have found accord, although no details have been released.

So it is good for authors, or bad for authors, or is the status quo maintained with Amazon still holding all the cards?

For the publishers, it's a return to the agency pricing model that was in place until Amazon complained to the US authorities and Apple was sued for anti-trust violations. Not so anti-trusty if it's Amazon doing the deal, apparently.

Publishers set the price of e-books, and Amazon as retailer gets a fixed piece of the money pie. And the authors get....?

The Authors Guild wants authors to get more than 25% of net, especially because those authors were highly supportive of Hachette, and therefore in support of all publishers. Where's the love, publishers? Show me the money!

The publishers are unlikely to give more. Amazon wanted more and that was the start of the whole thing. There isn't more to give, in the publisher's opinion, but then again, the publishers are paying huge advances for shite because it's a celebrity's book, and then make it up by short-changing talented authors. It's the business model they've known and loved, and they can't change the steps of their dance after decades of practice.

Amazon does not seem too much the worse for wear. It will continue to sell books as it has been, and you have to wonder if there is some wording in the agreement that works to Amazon's benefit so that it gets something to improve the sagging bottom line. It could be any kind of incentive, even a promo to push some book that a publisher particularly wants to sell, and Amazon gets a deeper discount on something else as a reward. Any mention of steeper discounts has authors looking at their sagging bottoms. They're at the bottom of the payment pyramid, and the ones most likely to take a hit if there's costs to be cut.

Smaller royalties might be in the offing, but it's anyone's guess. There are no details in the devil of a deal.

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