The Authors Guild has sent out an important advisory to its members:
Simon & Schuster has recently sent a one-page letter to many,
perhaps thousands, of authors with unspecified e-book royalty rates in
an attempt to set those rates at 15% of the “catalog retail price” of
the e-book. (This is the typical e-book royalty rate for S&S.) As
with any amendment to a book contract, the Authors Guild advises
1. Discuss the amendment with your agent or attorney, if you have one.
2. Depending on your existing contract with Simon & Schuster, the
amendment may grant the publisher rights that you’ve otherwise
3. Be aware that the amendment may affect your ability to obtain a reversion of rights.
In any negotiation regarding e-book royalty rates, we suggest that you
keep your powder dry: try to retain the right to renegotiate e-book
royalty rates. The Authors Guild expects that 15% of the retail list
price will be the low-water mark for e-book royalties. As the e-book
market develops, authors with clout will doubtlessly insist on a more
reasonable share of e-book revenues, and the industry will have to
adapt. One glance at Amazon.com’s home page, which has for months been
ceaselessly promoting its Kindle e-book reader, indicates that day may
be near. For more on Amazon and e-books, see this July 4th article from the San Francisco Chronicle.