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Simon & Schuster Proposes E-Book Royalty Amendment

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MAIN NEWS HEADLINES
July 24 – July 31, 2008 Edition

Simon & Schuster
Proposes E-Book
Royalty Amendment

NEW YORK, NY/7/18/08–Simon & Schuster recently sent a one-page letter to a number of authors who have varying or unspecified e-book royalty rates, attempting to set those rates at 15% of the “catalog retail price” of the e-book, according to a statement from the Author’s Guild. The 15% rate, typical for Simon & Schuster’s e-books, would be specified in an amendment to the author’s contract. The Guild warned authors to carefully consider the change before automatically granting S&S the locked-in rate.

The Guild advises authors to discuss the publisher’s amendment with their agents or attorneys before signing the agreement. The amendment “may grant the publisher rights you’ve otherwise retained,” the Guild warns, and “be aware that the amendment may affect your ability to obtain a reversion of rights.”

” In any negotiation regarding e-book royalty rates, we suggest that you keep your powder dry: try to retain the right to renegotiate e-book royalty rates. The Authors Guild expects that 15% of the retail list price will be the low-water mark for e-book royalties,” the Guild says on its web site. “As the e-book market develops, authors with clout will doubtlessly insist on a more reasonable share of e-book revenues, and the industry will have to adapt. One glance at Amazon.com’s home page, which has for months been ceaselessly promoting its Kindle e-book reader, indicates that day may be near.”

S&S spokesperson Adam Rothberg said the amendment is designed to sell more e-books in a rapidly developing market. He said he believes it is important for S&S to determine the royalty rate, and said S&S is willing to talk with authors and agents about any questions they have on the e-book market.

Earlier this year, the Guild protested Simon & Schuster’s plan to change the way authors could get back their rights, and a compromise was reached.