Monday, March 3, 2014

Bait and Switch - Amazon is at it again

At Digital Book World's annual conference, Businessweek contributor Brad Stone described Amazon as "ruthless and self-absorbed."

After reading this announcement in Publishers Weekly, I am tempted to add some other adjectives as well - heartless comes to mind.

What Amazon has done to publishing houses, struggling academic presses, and moribund brick-and-mortar book stores, it is now doing to the very authors who helped make Amazon the monster it is today.

By cutting royalty rates for authors who self-publish their audiobooks on Amazon by up to half, Amazon hopes to "encourage authors to become more aggressive marketers." (Translation: "We will do less for you, and, in exchange, you will do more for us.") (There is a reason for anti-trust laws. It's a pity they aren't enforced.)

In sum, the benefits of self-publishing audiobooks through Amazon are waning rapidly. I expect the same will eventually hold true of all of its other publishing platforms as well. 

It's only a matter of time.

Audible Lowers Royalty on Self-Published Audiobooks

Publishers Weekly, February 28, 2014

Amazon-owned audiobook retailer Audible is lowering the royalty rates it pays authors who self-publish their audiobooks through the website.

As first reported by Gigaom, Amazon announced the news on a blog post on its ACX website. ACX, or Audiobook Common Exchange, is the company's platform through which authors can post their available audio rights and producers can then bid on the rights, to create the work. Creators then have the option to sell the audiobooks exclusively through Amazon, Audible and iTunes at a higher royalty rate, or through a wider range of retailers, at a lower rate. Up until now, Amazon was offering an escalating rate of 50%-90% on ACX titles sold exclusively; now it is dropping the rate to a non-escalating 40%. (ACX audbiobooks distributed non-exclusively are dropping to a non-escalating rate of 25%.)

The move, Amazon said in the post, which takes effect March 12, 2014, will, in part, encourage authors to become more aggressive marketers. With the drop in royalty rate, for authors selling their audiobooks exclusively, Amazon has bumped up its "bounty" program. The bounty is the amount awarded to the author (or royalty earner) whenever an audiobook is the first purchase of a new member of the program. Previously the bounty was $25, and now it is $50.

Audiobooks signed up before March 12, and those currently selling under the existing royalty structure, will continue to draw the original rates.

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