Thursday, February 11, 2016

The money in books

Where money is involved there is room for strife, argument and bitter disputation. This is true in the publishing industry sector. And it is true in Germany.

from Quartz...
"In 1888, German booksellers and publishers agreed that publishers would set one price for each book, and booksellers would abide by it. The fixed-price promise aimed to reduce competition between sellers, and give lesser known titles a chance to flourish. Today any retailers who sell off-price books are required to pay heavy fines.On 3 February Reuters reported that the German cabinet had agreed to include e-books in the fixed-price law, along with print books. The decision extends to all books sold to German buyers, regardless of the retailer’s origin or place of business."

Now there must be a lot of lawyers within the Amazon operation trying to figure out the implications of all this for their business. They will see, on the one hand, what appears to be a levelling of the playing field which is not actually too disruptive. 

If an e-book with content identical to its printed version is sold at the same price, the German publisher currently earns less from the digital sale (taxed at 19%) than from the booky-book which attracts a reduced 7% rate of value-added tax. The result of harmonization would be a marginal increase in earnings for the German gate-keepers, so admant that all of this is intended to maintain the diversity of literature dissemination.

On the other hand, is this highly desirable diversity not provided for today by the availability of so many self-published titles which appear on the market without any involvement of the nation's powerful established publishing houses?

Did the German cabinet even take into account the self-publishing movement and the business model associated with it? I suspect they did not. My fear is that the whole issue is going to becomae fraught, unwieldy and mired in anomalies and that we independent authors will derive no benefit whatsoever from the revised legislation.

Not that I, personally, could benefit much less than I do today! In late 2014 is decided to confide one of my titles to a German intermediary, ePubli; whose boast is that they can ensure distribution not only on the Kindle platform but on those of several other e-book vendors. I thought that as an author based in Germany it was worth a try. I paid them EUR 14.95 for an ISBN number. Last year my earnings from sales of this title were EUR 2.75. Last week I received the statement for May through December 2015... and the princely sum of EUR 0.31 credited to my bank account. .

In 1888 they wanted to "give lesser known titles a chance to flourish". Oh well!

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