Jeffrey Trachtenberg of The Wall Street Journal reports that authors are getting screwed by publishers in the ebook business.
It has always been tough for literary fiction writers to get their work published by the top publishing houses. But the digital revolution that is disrupting the economic model of the book industry is having an outsize impact on the careers of literary writers.
[…]The new economics of the e-book make the author's quandary painfully clear: A new $28 hardcover book returns half, or $14, to the publisher, and 15%, or $4.20, to the author. Under many e-book deals currently, a digital book sells for $12.99, returning 70%, or $9.09, to the publisher and typically 25% of that, or $2.27, to the author.
But Trachtenberg leaves out an attractive third option (and I have no idea why he did). What he doesn't say is that an author can publish their ebooks to the Kindle themselves and earn 70% of whatever the purchase price is ($2.06 on a $2.99 ebook). So why even bother with a publisher? I know it's a question more and more mid-list and literary authors are asking themselves. I certainly am.
The problem here isn't the rise of ebooks…it's publishers that are a) charging too much for ebooks and b) not giving a fair royalty on ebooks to authors.
In other words, it's not ebooks that are the problem here, it's the publishers failing to adapt.