Category The Walrus Said

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

Pricing eBooks—Logical Assumptions Need Not Apply

There’s really no consistent logic to how eBooks are currently priced. Publishers want prices higher to increase profit margins. Amazon wants prices lower to encourage increased sales volume. Apple wants prices more standardized, because that’s just the way Apple does things. There have been reports of eBook editions selling for higher prices than printed editions, which makes little sense except that some publisher has decided that they can make more money this way. There have been reports of Amazon capitulating to publishers’ demands to raise eBook prices, followed by reports several months later of Amazon forcing publishers to sell their eBooks at lower prices.

Kindle Pricing Screenshot

eBook pricing variability on view at Amazon—randomness reigns!

There’s not much clarity to be gained by watching the big boys try to bully and bludgeon each other over pricing. WalrusInk pricing will attempt to establish a price that is fair to consumers and provides a reasonable profit to our partnership of editors and authors so that we can earn a reasonable living. We have attempted to model this with some assumptions about volume and velocity, but there’s very little history on which to base our assumptions. One ends up with a set of variables that is larger than the set of constants, which is akin to looking at the stars to predict the future only to find that there are ever more stars and no predictable future.

Nonetheless, the eager-beaver budgeteers at WalrusInk have decided to base our model on a standard eBook price of $9.99. We could build a numerical model to justify this decision, but in the end, it seems like a fair and reasonable price from just about every point of view. It’s easy to imagine that some of our shorter eBooks will sell for less, but we’re more likely to want to split a book into two parts than go for a single book at a higher price. Why? That’s a discussion for a future blog. —Professor Walrus

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.

WalrusInk Manifesto!

WalrusInk is an independent ePublishing company with an emphasis in technology and including anything we find interesting written by authors we enjoy working with, including fiction. We will be distributing our eBooks* through all available venues, including iBooks, Kindle, Nook, Kobo, Safari Online, and wherever fine eBooks are downloaded. We will also make Print-On-Demand versions of our books available through Amazon, Lightning Source, and other vendors.

Our business plan is based on the simple concept of fairness, which means that we are publishing partners with authors. This determines the way we do business as much as our product, the eBooks we publish, define our business persona. And by humanizing the business model and streamlining production, we are able to concentrate on quality and publish the most compelling eBooks available.