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Straddling the divide: Michael Chabon has mixed feelings about granting e-book rights

Via Scoop.itWriting and reading fiction

NEW YORK — Starting this week and continuing into 2012, virtually all Michael Chabon novels, stories and other writings will become available as e-books, news the author looks upon with pleasure and resignation.
Via www.washingtonpost.com

Filed under: publishing

3 Responses

  1. Reena Jacobs says:

    i don’t want to bad mouth people, but Chabon’s comment made me think of that Geico commercial when the spokesperson says, “what… do you live under a rock?”

    “I agreed to the traditional e-book royalty, which I think is criminally low, because I didn’t really have any legs to stand on. I didn’t want to get left behind in the e-book revolution,” Chabon said recently.

    Apparently, he’s not keeping up to date on the happenings. Quite a few traditional authors are retaining their e-rights and self-publishing. Even most small presses offer better than 25% of the net. With all the knowledge out there and ability to self-publish a book, there’s no reason for a traditional author (who’s sold their print rights but retained their digital rights) to feel like they have to sell their digital rights in order to stay in the e-book game.

    It’s one thing when the publisher is asking for both at once, and entirely different story when the author is holding all the cards.

    Maybe I missed some crucial part of the article, but I don’t get his mentality.

  2. las artes says:

    E-rights to “Kavalier & Clay,” published in 2000 by Random House, and such recent HarperCollins releases as “The Yiddish Policemen’s Union” are owned by the original publishers. For those editions, Chabon’s royalties will be around 25 percent, the industry standard and comparable to what publishers offer for hardcovers and paperbacks. Countless writers and agents have said the rate for ebooks should be raised.

  3. Reena Jacobs says:

    This is only semi-related. I get the impression agents don’t like the label of gatekeeper. Yet I wonder, if they’re not the gatekeepers for the big publishers, what are they? When I think of an agent, I think of someone who’s suppose to negotiate a contract for the client. If the rates are all set, what exactly are they negotiating? Even advances seem set by the publisher these days. If there’s no bidding wars, it seems like the agents/writer gets what is offered or nothing. Why aren’t agents negotiating better digital rights contracts for their clients?

    We have the standard rate of 25% for traditional digital rights. Chabon sold his print rights, but held onto his digital rights. Either that or his digital rights reverted back to him. At least, that’s the impression I received from the article. So he hits a crossroad: to digital or not to digital. He decided it’s time to get into the digital game, which brought up another choice: How to go about doing it?

    The thing with Chabon (according to the way I read the article), he pretended like he had no choices or rather two: either he had to go traditional at 25% or not get into the digital market. In truth, he had several choices. 1) Accept the 25% standard contract. 2) Negotiate better royalties. 3) Self-publish. 4) Stay out of the game. 5) Go with a smaller press with better terms. 6) Other, whatever that may be.

    Chabon has been in the publishing game for quite some time. He has a fan base, and he’s certainly not helpless. He had plenty of leverage, something many authors don’t have. It’s hard for me to muster sympathy for someone in his position who chooses the 25% royalty rate.

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