The Problem (won’t go away)

We’re still addressing The Problem here at #textpatois.  I’ve got two links that show where we’re at tonight.

Freakonomics: The author loses out in e-book sales.

According to this interesting post at the Freakonomics glob, it s authors make less money per e-book sale and publishers make more.  They’re using numbers from the Author’s Guild Bullietin, and according to current royalty configurations, the publishers may not be doing swimmingly, but the authors are certainly drowning.  The clip on the Freakonomics website uses three bestsellers to make their point (David Baldacci, yuck!) Stephen Dubner takes the rational economist’s view that many authors can derive unity not simply from not simply from the money but from other aspects of writing.  That point should certainly be addressed, and is a possible explanation for why there is so much unpaid freelance writing/interning.  But perhaps this is a problem the guild should address–if these are standard contract terms, they suck.

Publishers Weekly: E-books poised to overtake mass market paperbacks.

There’s a lot to unpack in this short industry bulletin.  First, the data is flawed–only 85 publishing houses are included in the Association of American Publishers numbers, and those houses don’t include many prolific university presses.  Second, if you read closely, it says that only 16 companies reported numbers for e-book sales.  I don’t know if that means that only those presses are currently selling e-books or whether those presses are proud of their e-book numbers and others aren’t.  The most interesting part of the article says that e-book revenue was higher than adult hardcover or paperback mass market individually.  It’s safe to say that the other 59 presses that didn’t report e-book numbers were selling a lot of adult hardcovers, so we can safely say that e-books aren’t going to pass them soon.  But  the 16 presses that reported e-book numbers also sell the vast majority of mass-market paperbacks, so we can predict a date where the two lines will cross.

Essentially, this is the problem in a nutshell from the numbers game–e-books are selling more, and authors are getting paid less per e-book.  How can find a healthy equilibrium?

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