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Simon & Schuster wants ebook royalties to be 15%

Simon & Schuster has sent out an amendment to authors which purports to add a provision setting the standard royalty rate at 15% of the catalog retail price for e-books. The Author’s Guild sent out an alert to instruct authors of three things:

members should discuss the amendment with their attorney or agent; warns that, depending on a member’s particular contract with S&S, the amendment may grant S&S rights that otherwise would be retained by the author; and notes that members should be aware that the amendment may affect their ability to obtain a reversion of rights.

15% is fairly low given the high margins of profit for the publisher. Standard e industry royalties range from 35%-45%. Simon & Schuster has tried before to gain advantages above and beyond the standard contract and were not totally successful.

Via Publishers Weekly.

Jane Litte is the founder of Dear Author, a lawyer, and a lover of pencil skirts. She spends her downtime reading romances and writing about them. Her TBR pile is much larger than the one shown in the picture and not as pretty. You can reach Jane by email at jane @ dearauthor dot com

5 Comments

  1. MCHalliday
    Jul 19, 2008 @ 10:57:59

    Due to S&S creating a backlist in ebook format, including saleable out of print titles, I would assume they are seeking rights to secure the list permanently, hence the warning regarding the reversion of rights.

    Considering this grab would ensure their catalogue and greatly reduce the maintenance, S&S should definitely be offering the industry standard for purchase direct from the publisher.

    ReplyReply

  2. veinglory
    Jul 20, 2008 @ 20:37:19

    MCHalliday, I think you are exactly right. 15% is way too low but S&S’s ongoing campaign to avoid works going out of print and reverting to the author is potentially a much greater issue.

    ReplyReply

  3. FD
    Jun 15, 2009 @ 12:19:23

    I’ve a question about that actually; is it industry standard for rights to revert when the item goes out of print – or is it a specified term arrangement? Because I can certainly see how the specified term model would put authors over the proverbial barrel.

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  4. Jane
    Jun 15, 2009 @ 12:31:19

    @FD – I believe that rights reversion is bound by contractual terms. I.e., digital rights can revert if fall below a certain sales level. Print rights revert if book is out of print for a period of time.

    ReplyReply

  5. FD
    Jun 15, 2009 @ 13:00:31

    Ta very much Jane. I wondered how that worked with e-books.

    ReplyReply

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