In case you haven’t followed the news on the internet recently, the big story in the publishing industry is all over the Web. On Wednesday, April 11, the Department of Justice charged Apple and five of the largest publishing houses with conspiring to raise the price of e-books. Apparently, in a move reminiscent to the General Electric/Westinghouse/Allis-Chalmers affair of the 1950s, they all met in secret and decided to “set” the price of e-books.
Not cool. Seriously, how can you not know that price fixing is against the law in America? Of course it seems they did know since three of the publishing companies threw their hands up right away and admitted guilt, rather than even try to prove their innocence.
I had noticed that most of the big name e-books were priced at $9.99 on Amazon. I thought it strange that they were all the same price, and even stranger that this often meant the e-book was priced higher than the mass-market paperback. But an even stranger twist is this—even at $9,99, Amazon, to retain control of the e-book market, was selling e-books for less than what they were buying them from the big publishing houses.
Think about what that means for a second. That means that the publishing houses were selling e-books, which almost always are also released as a hardcopy book, for over ten dollars. These are books that they have already paid for editing and cover designs, and books that have zero overhead in the form of printing, stocking, or shipping.
It gets worse. All this money they were making on e-books, how much of it do you think they were paying their high-valued authors? Their royalties were a measly 17.5%. If you consider that Amazon and B&N pay 70% on e-book sales, it’s a disgrace. The publishing companies were pocketing 52.5% of this outrageous price, the price they illegally got together to fix, and on e-books, which take a mere Word file to set up.
Gee, who am I leaving out? Seems like some other party is getting the short end of the stick here. Oh yeah, the freaking consumers, the readers who keep these sorry publishing companies in business.
That’s it; I’m throwing my Kindle away. Well, as soon as someone buys me one (my birthday is August 1), I’m throwing it away. Well, after I try it out a few times, it’s gone. Well, when the screen wears out, I’m definitely tossing it in defiance.
The only bright side is that it has bridged the gap of traditional and Indie authors in at least one area. Many big name authors have told their publishing company “no thanks” when it comes to releasing their hit titles as an e-book, and are deciding they can take care of that themselves. And why not? They can pay for their own editing and book cover design and make 70%, instead of 17.5%, from a title in which the publishing company has already publicized.
Wow. Turns out famous authors might be smarter than we thought. Who knew?
Neal Wooten, Publisher/Indie Author/Illustrator/Cartoonist