eBooks and Revenue Sharing—50/50 or bust!

I’ve been reading the “Tools of Change for Publishing” LinkedIn group discussion for some months and felt compelled to respond to a recent thread started by Steve Weiss at O’Reilly:

Tools of Change

Who else is ready to consider to match the 50% royalty model?

We at WalrusInk ePublishing are going with a 50% revenue-sharing model. (The old vocabulary with royalties, rights, and advances no longer applies, because we don’t intend to “own” the intellectual property ‘IP’, which is another story.) It feels fair, and it’s really easy to calculate revenue, because it shows up in the bank account at the end of every month (we hope).

The vendor share of eBook sales is pretty standard at 30% of the sale price, though there are a number of extenuating circumstances that muddy these waters. Still, Amazon, Apple, and Barnes & Noble have made this a kind of e-vendor standard. For the purposes of rough estimates, most of our books are likely to sell for $10.

$3.00 to the vendor
$3.50 to the author (or authors)
$3.50 stays in the WalrusInk bank account

Is this fair? Who knows? In fact, I’m not sure fairness can be calculated in this way, especially since, at least for the moment, we’re at the mercy of rapidly shifting market forces. But more important for the long run, will this allow WalrusInk to survive and prosper as a new venture, and will our authors feel sufficiently compensated for their work to want to continue writing for us and to recommend us to their friends?

I suspect we’ll be making many adjustments to this model as we publish more eBooks, markets continue to shift, technology changes, and e-reading habits take some sort of recognizable shape.

Clay Andres
Publisher & Walrus-in-Chief