Literary agents speaking at Publishers Launch Frankfurt have challenged publishers to approach e-book royalty discussions in a more "knowledgeable" way or face a "reckoning" from the digital revolution. But there are signs of movement on the 25% royalty from UK publishers, with UK agent David Miller stating that he had negotiated better rates for some of his authors.
Robert Gottlieb, chairman of the US literary agency Trident Media Group [pictured], said publishers were still fixed in their traditional models. "American publishers have to get beyond the point when they are doing it the same way, over and over again," he said. "It means cutting overheads, and changing their dynamics, and welcoming as opposed to resisting or being frightened of this new e-book arena."
He said publishers should "embrace" the changes, and "then they'll be able to look at what they are paying their authors in a knowledgeable way, and we will then see the rate moving up". Gottlieb warned that new players such as Amazon had no such constraints and were "offering a higher e-book rate, and advances that are comparable with what others publishers are willing to pay".
He warned that publishers' grip on the business was "starting to change in favour of the author". He added: "Publishers are frightened to death of the e-book market, because they see the opportunity for authors, that they did not have before ...