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January 31, 2014

Publishing | Opinion

Loyalty vs. Royalties in agile ELT publishing

loyalty-vs-royalties.jpgThe long-standing royalty agreement between author and publisher is continuing to be challenged by developments in digital content creation. Over on eltjam, ELT writer and prolific blogger Nicola Prentis takes a look at the implications of this shift.

ELT’s newest buzzword is not in fact ‘digital’ or ‘agile’, it’s ‘restructuring’. Pearson, as everyone knows by now, is leading the way with a huge restructuring that has had writers floundering, projects awaiting commission (or not) for a year and editors reapplying for their own jobs. The switch to digital is not Pearson’s only move, they’re adopting more agile ways of working and will be focusing on providing education services and viewing everything through the lens off ‘efficacy’.

At the recent MaWSIG conference I was surprised to learn that, contrary to ideas that publishers are raking it in, both they and the author’s percentage of profits from a coursebook is in single figures. Evidently this is not enough for either party but only one side has the power to rectify it. A massive 47%, goes on production costs so, if the point of agile is to be more efficient and get a product out quicker, money will be saved there. Good news.

Even more good news, digital products don’t require storage, printing or transport costs so will drive savings that could benefit both publishers and authors. In traditional publishing, we’re seeing ebook contracts with much higher shares of the profits going to authors and cheaper products for customers. For example I have an ebook contract with a division of Harper Collins for 25% of the net, rising to 50% if it sells over 10,000 copies, significantly more than I would get on print books.

Read the full article on eltjam.

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