Friday, November 04, 2005

Link me, baby. Oh yeah. Oooh ...

Today, has previewed its idea to sell just a few pages or chapters of a book — "allowing one of the world's oldest media to be chopped up and customized like an album on iTunes," according to a Los Angeles Times story.
Although he offered few details, Chief Executive Jeff Bezos said Amazon customers soon would be able to buy digital snippets of books for as little as a few cents a page. That might come in handy for tourists planning a trip, chefs seeking recipes or students assigned one chapter in an expensive textbook.

Purely as a customer service, you understand ... to save time and money as makes even more money off my writing than I do ... I humbly direct the reader to the dirty part in my first novel, "Angel Fire."

It's on Page 232.


Anonymous said...

Ahhh-hemmmmmm, I checked my copy,p.232. Nope, not there. So I started searching. Have not found the dirty part yet. I read it too long ago. Dang. It is time to read it again. I LOOOOOOOOVE this book. Thanks for the reminder.

Mover Mike said...

Ron do you make anything off a book sale through
Mover Mike

Ron Franscell said...

Mike: Yes, I do. Very little, but neither more nor less than the royalty on a book sold at a bricks-and-mortar bookstore. Amazon doesn't actually buy the book, but takes it on consignment in an order-fulfillment operation. It's been a while since my publishers have shared figures with me, but a couple years ago, this was the rough breakdown on a typical $25 hardcover book:

--Amazon will earn about $13.50 as the bookseller (traditional booksellers actually earn slightly less. Amazon demands a bigger share than they do, and has a variety of "extra" charges it levies);
--The publisher keeps $8.50 to $10;
--The shipper/distributor will make about $2.50;
--The author will earn $1.25 to $2.50 (roughly 10% of the net or retail price, depending on the size of the publisher and/or the author, and their deal.)

Everybody pays their own expenses, of course. Amazon has employees, big servers and warehouses; publishers have skilled employees, printers, equipment, etc.; and distributors have trucks and shipping costs. Nobody is making an easy buck.

But the author has the worst cost/benefit ratio. He pays for all his own equipment, supplies, travel, phones, a 15%-off-the-top agent, a publicist, etc., too -- although he earns the smallest share from his art.

Today, publishers require (not ask ... require) authors to shoulder most of the promotion of their books, too. If an author does a book-signing in your town, it's likely he's there at his own expense. Publisher-underwritten book tours are reserved for only the biggest- and best-sellers ... yes, exactly the people who need LESS promotion.

If you buy a USED copy of one of my books at Amazon, I make nothing. The seller and split the profit. Authors have never gotten a share of used-book sales, of course, but Amazon has added a twist: Find a brand-new book that will hit the shelf on, say, Nov. 20. Usually, that book isn't available to the public before Nov. 20 ... but you'll see facilitating the sales of "used" books early on Nov. 20. Hmmm. There's probably a reasonable explanation, but there's also a sneaky explanation.

Amazon has done a great deal for book marketing, but at great cost to authors and publishers (and great profit to Amazon.) Today, Amazon and Barnes&Noble are the sprawling, arrogant, take-it-or-leave-it bullies in the bookselling world, despite their friendly facades. Alas, if one writes books, one must deal with Amazon and B&N (and Borders, Books-a-Million, and other big-box bookstores.)

But to answer your question ... because authors' deals are with publishers, an author makes about the same on the sale of every book, whether it's sold at Amazon, B&N or your neighborhood bookstore.