No War Yet Over Royalties

Andrew AlbaneseOnce a quiet corner of the media world, the book business today has a warlike cast. Court battles over copyright questions can rage for years, while clashes over price-fixing and antitrust violations flare then fade.

Of all the battles to come to Bookland, however, one conflict has long loomed, yet never erupted: authors and their agents taking on publishers over e-book royalties.

“While battles over copyright and prices have been the big common headlines, the battle that could help authors most—their royalties—has not advanced,” notes Andrew AlbanesePublishers Weekly senior writer.

In 2013, e-book royalties stand at 25% of net, a level set at the turn of the millennium, before there even was an e-book market. Will the status quo ever shift, wonders CCC’s Chris Kenneally. “Eventually,” predicts Albanese, “but not until the book business tips, and the industry becomes a mature e-book business.”

Every Friday, CCC’s “Beyond the Book” speaks with the editors and reporters of “Publishers Weekly” for an early look at the news that publishers, editors, authors, agents and librarians will be talking about when they return to work on Monday.

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