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'Higher royalties on ebooks'

30 January 2012

'To the Society of Authors, the arguments in favour of higher royalties on e-books seem as unanswerable as they have ever been. We feel that the starting rate for an unenhanced book, including academic texts, should be at least 30% - and that where enhanced e-books are being published, the royalty rate should be negotiated to reflect the degree of additional costs and work involved. Where the deal is exclusively for an e-book, and no advance is being paid, the royalties should start at a minimum of 50% and be valid either for a period of some three years, or else permit the author to terminate the agreement. At a time when companies seem to be building their e-book lists with a view, in the long run, to selling them to the highest bidder, authors need to stand firm against what otherwise risks becoming a very blatant rights grab. Indeed, such is the speed with which things are changing that all authors - and a fortiori agents - need to insist on having finite licences. An author who was locked two years ago into a 15% royalty will surely be regretting it now; and if indeed, down the line, royalties do climb to a more reasonable rate, those who accept 25% now will doubtless want the opportunity to renegotiate.'

Tom Holland, retiring chair of the UK Society of Authors in the Bookseller