Wednesday, December 16, 2009

Digital Rights Throw Down

Looks like the inevitable digital rights clash between authors and publishers is unfolding before our eyes.

Things started to windup on Dec 9 when a couple of different publishing houses announced they were going to withhold publishing e-books until several months after the hardcover version had been released.

A few days ago, Stephen R. Covey said see ya to his longtime publisher Simon & Schuster and let the world know that he would had signed a three-year deal to move all of his e-book rights to Rosetta/Amazon.

Then Random House has declared they own the digital rights for all old contracts that do not specifically mention digital rights.  Sounds fishy?  This guy thinks so.

You can find an overview of the broader issues here.


Jon said...

Yeah, I've been watching this. Everybody is scrambling. It sounds like most new authors won't be affected though.

Shawn Enderlin said...

Not entirely true. I don't have the links to the articles handy, but the stuff I've been seeing talks about how the publishers may chsnge the pricing and revenue structures in such a way the authors would get even less in royalty payments than they do now.

I'll post a link tonight.

Mark Teats said...

Hmmm. Most uncool.

Shawn Enderlin said...

ugh, I can't find the link anymore (of course).

But it went something like this...

The discussion was about pricing and how Amazon is making the major publishers crazy by charging a flat rate of $9.99 for e-books. That price seriously undercuts what major publishers are charging and, more importantly, Amazon is selling at a loss.

The idea behind the article I read, which was really just one organization's opinion of how things might turn out, was that the only way anyone could make money and $9.99 was for the major publishers to charge Amazon less for their product. This would put price pressure back on the publishers which they would then, presumably, make up for into ways: 1) increased sales volume, 2) paying less in royalties authors.

Of course, who knows if any of that would really happen but based on what I've seen so far of this debate the major publishers don't appear to be too interested in the welfare of authors.

Shawn Enderlin said...

it's crazy out there...

here's some more: Separation of E-Book Rights: Publishers' Worst Nightmare