Thursday, August 27, 2009

Some wise perspective on small press realities

This is a reprint from The Pagan and the Pen Yahoogroup, fomented by one of our authors, dismayed by ebook piracy and considering abandoning us for print, just as hackers took to chopping at our buy site this week. Happily the site is now up and running again and in the words of the Boss, 'fortified like Ft Knox' !

Re: Myristica--sharing books, piracy, ISBN's

Hi, A number of issues here:

When you lend a paper copy of a book to friends to read, you are not committing a piracy. An author recieves at most 8% royalty ona book, and that only after the advance has been paid off. For most authors,that means they only earn $5,000 on a book.

Most of the costs in paperbooks is printing, distribution (trucks! gas!), warehousing, and landfill. (If a new bookdoes not get sold in a bookstore within two weeks the cover is ripped off and sent to the publisher for a full refund to the store. The rest of the book is trashed, which means off to the land fill. Now walk into your local Barnes andNoble and imagine at least one copy of every book in the store going to a landfill every week, and this will give you a modest idea of the paper waste.)The publishers costs are editorial (a team to edit and proofread), design(jacket and print fonts) and advertisement.

If sharing print books was piracy the US would have no libraries. What I would suggest is that if you are part of a group that wants to read a certain book ask your library to buy it. Better still, ask your library if you can have a reading group and then give them alist of books you want to read for your reading group. If your group is big and your library won't buy the books raise Christians. (I've decided tosay "raiseChristians rather than raise Hell" when I'm among Pagans.) Publishers like me will adore you for getting your library to buy books. Libraries are great markets because they buy a lot of books at once, don't expect to return books,and don't demand impossible price reductions. They'll also keep buying the books as long as their patrons keep reading them into tatters. Libraries are not supposed to tell you what to read; it's a freedom of speech issue.

A library system for a big city, a group of towns, or a county will buy thousands of a book all at once. When a library system buys 10,000 books, all the costs of the book get covered with no warehousing needed because the libraries take all10,000 books. Even if a library only decided to buy three copies, the patrons will read it and get the word out. Books have suddenly become best sellersbecause of word of mouth started by library patrons. So if you need to share books, insist your libary buy them for you. That is the purpose of our libaries!

When you pass around an e-book, on the other hand, an author is getting a30%-50% royalty on every single e-book and does not get any advance, only theroyalties. Unlike the big publishers where the author gets the advance even if the book flops, the e-authors gets only royalites. The price of the e-bookcovers the publishers real costs of editing, design, promotion, and making available for sale. E-publishers are not filling up the nation's landfills with unread copies. E-publishers are not factoring printing, warehousing,transportation, and returns into the price of their books as the big publishinghouses do. When you pirate from them you are not just stealing profit, you are stealing costs, which means you are putting the authors and publishers in the red.

Next, regarding ISBN's. I've just gone through this process as a small publisher who now has her block of ISBN's. An author can not buy a single ISBN unless you are a publisher. You can get a single ISBN when publishing a print book through Lulu because Lulu negotiates a special arrangement and charges you for it, a lot. If you have a publisher, then your publisher would get the ISBN. If you got your own ISBN that would mean you have taken your book away from your publisher after your publisher has had the book edited, designed, promoted, and made available for sale on its website. How do you think you publisher would feel about you if you took the busisness away? Your publisher can get your booklisted at Amazon. Indeed, that's part of your publisher's work.

Now let's look at the piracy issue again. A publisher must buy a block of ISBN's. The smallest amount is a block of 10 for $275. However, a big publisher can buy a block of 1,000 ISBN's for $1,750.00. As you can see, the big publisher pays much less per individual ISBN than I do. I don't have the money currentlyto buy 1,000 ISBN's nor do I need that many. So I have to pay more for being a small company. And it is this way for every single publishing cost. I pay more for being a small company. So my loss to piracy is much greater than it is to big companies.


These are all excellent reasons to buy your own ebook from us at Dark Roast Press.

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