Monday, July 12, 2010

Ebook deals 'not remotely fair' on authors; (London) Guardian, 7/12/10

Alison Flood, (London) Guardian; Ebook deals 'not remotely fair' on authors: Digital publishing deals locking writers in for the duration of copyright risk damaging industry, says Society of Authors chair:

"The chair of the Society of Authors, Tom Holland, has hit out at publishers' attempt to seize control over electronic rights, calling ebook deals that lock authors in for the duration of copyright "not remotely fair".

Speaking at the Romantic Novelists' Association's annual conference last week, Holland urged authors to push for ebook royalties that are "considerably higher" than the standard of around 25%. Although Holland said the market for ebooks is only about 1% of the total UK market, it is "growing fast" and the Society of Authors believes that, given publishers will eventually have much lower warehousing and distribution costs for ebooks, royalties should be divided 50/50.

"Most publishers are insisting they should control ebook rights and this will be written into standard contracts. I think it's an entirely reasonable position to take, so long as the royalties and returns on ebooks are fair and proper and reasonable. If they are not, I suspect we may well find very big-name authors, such as JK Rowling or Dan Brown, will go their own way," said Holland. "It's a danger publishers need to recognise and a danger for writers as well. If JK Rowling controls her own ebook rights [then] there's less money for her publisher to invest in new authors. We could face a situation of very big-name authors pulling the ladder up after them [and] we have a stake in seeing a healthy publishing industry."

Although publishers "are inclined to dismiss the argument that costs are reduced on ebooks", Holland said: "Once a system has been set up, publishers won't be paying for warehousing, distribution and printing, and we have to ask ourselves what are they spending the money on?"

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