The Kindle killed the book star

McQueen%2C%20Mark44X64.jpgPosted by Mark McQueen
Amazon’s Kindle will do to book authors what the internet has done to newspaper journalists. And I don’t mean in a good way, by broadening the reach and influence of the writer. It’ll only serve to reduce their numbers as digital economics are horrible for those who spend 18 months or more writing a hardcover book, only to see it sold for US$9.99 on Kindle.
I had a chance to play with the Kindle 2 for a few hours last week, until I realized that the only appropriate thing to do was to “lend" it to someone who seemed even more keen on it than I.
At first glance, you can’t but help be excited about the idea. Books and newspapers sitting on a small device, waiting to be brought to life at the push of a button. Pushed wirelessly. With 284,265 books available to download from, most of which sell for US$9.99, you’ll never run out of something to read. And the electronic library is growing by 500 books a day. Compared to lugging Warren Buffet’s 800-page Snowball around, it is quite convenient for consumers; particularly those of us who usually find time to read while travelling.
But the Kindle will financially ruin most authors. At least those who once thought they could make a living from their trade.
Here’s why. Book authors live off royalties, a portion of which they receive up front in the form of an advance. For most authors, their entire income is the result of these two fee streams; few ever hit the speaking circuit ala former U.S. President Bill Clinton. For a publisher, they try to determine how many books will sell of a certain title, apply 15% to that figure, add a buffer, and offer that as an advance for the right to publish a certain title. Once the book sells enough to cover the advance, the author gets ~15% of the cover price of each book sold. If a book store has a sale on bestsellers and discounts it by 30%, the authour’s royalty is still based upon the cover price.
In the Kindle world, early murmurs are that authors are going to receive somewhere between 10-25% of the “net” that the publisher receives from the online book store; the topic is still so new that the rules are still being devised and negotiated, but this appears to be the current direction. Click here to read more of Mark's post.

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