Thursday, February 25, 2010

Redefining Net Receipts Where eBooks Are Concerned

STATUS: Lots to tackle today so getting the blog entry out early.

What’s playing on the iPod right now? THE BLACKEST LILY by Corinne Bailey Rae

And the fun of how electronic books are changing the publishing contract continues. Today, boys and girls, we are going to talk about net receipts in Ms. Kristin’s neighborhood.

In light of this new agency commission model where Amazon and Apple will no longer carry the product per se but have an agreement to sell titles via their site in exchange for a 30% commission on the sale (see earlier post to get up to speed), suddenly agents need to re-examine the whole definition of net receipts in publishing contracts.

The definition of net receipts (or amount received) for an electronic book is not the same as the definition of amount received for a physical book.

With the agency commission model, the biggest question is this. Will publishers deduct the 30% commission paid or will they absorb it when calculating net receipts and determining what is the total used to pay authors their 25% of net receipts? One major publisher has stated that their current thinking is that the royalty would be calculated BEFORE deducting commission. In current negotiations for contracts in play, I’m not seeing publishers as excited about redefining net receipts this way.

So what does redefining net receipts mean to the author? Let’s do a little math!

Let’s say a title will sell on Amazon or Apple’s iPad for $10.00 (might as well make it easy math).

Now let’s look at the difference between net receipts if the publisher absorbs the cost of the agency commission versus if they don’t in defining and calculating net receipts.

If Publisher absorbs commission:
eBook price: $10.00
25% of net royalty (all the rage with publishers as of late)
Royalty to author: $2.50 per title sold

If Publisher does not:
eBook price: $10.00
$7.00 received by publisher (after 30% sales commission to retailer)
25% of net royalty
Royalty to author: $1.75 per title sold

Yep, definitely worth the time to find out exactly how this term is going to be defined in the contract when it comes to electronic books.