Authorlink Chief Editor Hits Out at Agency Model

Doris Booth, Editor-in-Chief of Authorlink, an award-winning online news, information, and marketing service for editors, agents, producers, writers, and readers, has hit out at the Agency Model introduced by publishers this year in an opinion article entitled, ‘Publishers’ Agency Model Punishes Mid-List Authors’.
In the strongly worded article, which appeared yesterday, Booth says the Agency Model ‘was touted to authors and their agents as one that would earn them just about as much royalty at 25% of the publishers net income (agency model) as they did under the old retail model—generally 8 to 12% of a book’s retail price. The new royalty rate almost sounded like a pay raise. But it hasn’t turned out that way for some.’
Booth goes on to say that the real pain lies in the pricing structures of the Agency Model:

“Under the old pricing system, publishers “sold” their titles to booksellers such as Amazon at a discount of 45-55% , and the reseller set any sale price it desired. But early this year, Amazon scared the bejeezus out of publishers when it started buying publishers’ e-books for its Kindle reading device for about $13 and then selling them at a loss for $9.99. Publishers feared that Amazon and other e-book retailers would drive the price point down to around $9.99 for just about every title—including high-dollar bestsellers. So publishers, with the help of the Book Industry Study Group, devised the new “agency model” that allows them to set their own retail prices and pay resellers like Amazon and Apple a flat commission of about 30% on the sale.”
Booth suggests that if the Agency Model remains in place, more and more authors will defect away and work directly with Amazon, but pointedly, she does acknowledge at the end of the article that there is a lot more wrong with publishing than just its transition to digital.

“Is it any wonder that some big publishers find themselves in a leaky boat as Amazon takes wing above? The defection seems to be about a whole lot more than the industry’s transition to digital publishing. It’s about how the guy or gal who actually writes the content gets treated.”
You can read the whole of Doris Booth’s article here on Authorlink.
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