Category Perverse Terminology

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

Who do you Trust?

An Essay on The Transformation of Trust in a Multivariate Universe

Trust is a cudgel. It’s not meant to be, or at least it isn’t defined as such. But in a world of hidden agendas, hierarchies, and group-think, “trust” has become a keyword for submission, subservience, and general me-too-ism. Here’s how it works in this non-trusting world:

I say to you, “Can I trust you?” This is a signal requiring agreement and not a request for a thoughtful answer. In fact, the slightest hesitation to blurt back “yes,” is an obvious “no.” This is why there are contracts, which become a written form of trust; a very explicit, truth-or-consequences form. Without this sort of explicitness, trust can’t be a yes or no question, so don’t ask!

Losing the Mutuality of Trust

Trust between two people requires a history of shared experiences. It requires mutuality and time. Furthermore, blanket trust isn’t possible and probably not particularly useful except in the closest relationships. Especially in a business relationship, trust needs to have limitations and for good reasons. Let’s start with the basics.