Where Did All My Royalties Go?

The other day my wife purchased a Kindle (there goes civilization as we know it) and also bought several books, one for $1.59. Thinking like any writer, I asked, “what kind of royalties does that author get from a book selling for $1.59 on a Kindle?”

We asked a good friend who is in the book business about e-book royalties from selling a book on a Kindle and her email reply was:

“The writer’s agent should have negotiated an e-rights royalty which is
less than the standard hard cover 12 1/2 percent but is based on the wholesale price which is surely higher than Amazon charges. This is what’s making publishers nuts. For the time being Amazon is charging these low prices. A loss leader to sell their devices. But in the long run  they’ll probably raise prices. Publishers would prefer that Amazon spend energy selling print books.”

Ain’t that the truth!


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  • Love my Kindle. After years of reading only computer books and magazines, I’ve rediscovered the joy of reading for pleasure. I attribute it all to the Kindle, as I now read everyday. I’ve read that Amazon intended to make the device disappear into the background, and it’s my experience that they succeeded.

    Now regarding royalties. For me, my reading more means that I am spending money on books that I was not doing before. Perhaps I’m making the case that “a rising tide lifts all boats.” (Wikipedia attributes the saying to JFK, so PC vets should be happy with the concept.) Most Kindle books are $9.99, so there is a more room for royalties than the $1.59 book purchase noted by Coyne would allow. While I am not putting myself out there as an example of anything, I’ve spent several hundred dollars on ‘books’ during the six months of owning the Kindle that I would not have spent otherwise.

    The current model reminds me of the first Apple computers which were bought for several thousand dollars in order to run a spreadsheet program named VisiCalc that cost a few hundred dollars — described then as the tail wagging the dog. VisiCalc is long gone, but spreadsheets are still around.


  • Ah, royalties! My son is a musician with 13 albums ‘in print’ and lives on the money they earn. Often he will meet someone who says ” Oh, I love your music! I copied all of your albums from my sister who got them from a friend.” Needless to say it doesn’t make his day.

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