I’ve been going nuts reading about the government’s prosecution—or is it persecution?—of publishers and Apple, and felt impelled to get some things off my chest, clarify my mind, and rid myself of this fruitless and confusing issue. The longer the government’s lawsuit against Apple and the five of the Big Six corporate publishers (who, through their various imprints account for 85% of book sales) continues, the more absurd it becomes. “Collusion,” the U.S. attorneys say. “We must protect the public from those conspiring to control prices of e-books.”
I don’t know how the Big Six divvy up e-book sales, but I know what we do: treating electronic sales the same way we do all subright sales and dividing the income on a 50:50 basis. I also believe that publishers have the right to set a price on the e-books they publish—just as they have a right to set prices on books they publish. If Apple allows the publisher to set their own prices, that’s a good thing. If wholesalers wish to give greater discounts, that’s up to them. But if Apple only takes 30% of the e-book selling price—then a $10 sale nets the publisher $7, and the author—with our system—earns $3.50 per sale. On the other hand, if Amazon takes 50%, and overrules the publisher’s asking price by deciding to sell the same book for $8, the publisher nets $4 and the author $2.00. Big difference, wouldn’t you say?