Amazon’s recent announcement of dramatically higher royalty rates for authors and book publishers, a move designed to level the playing field with Apple’s iPad tablet, seems to be having some effect: another author has signed an exclusive book deal for the Amazon Kindle. In this case, Gavin de Becker — author of several books about security — has agreed to release expanded and updated editions of two of his books, “The Gift of Fear” and “Just 2 Seconds.” A news release says that while both books have been available as print copies for some time, this is the first time “The Gift of Fear” has been available electronically, and both will be exclusive to Amazon’s Kindle Store for one year.
This deal appears to be very similar to a Kindle exclusive announced by author Stephen Covey — creator of the “The 7 Habits of Highly Successful People” line of books — in December, which saw the author transfer the rights to two of his books from Simon & Schuster to an electronic publisher in order to do the deal with Amazon. As part of that arrangement, Covey was to get about 50 percent of the proceeds from the sales of Kindle versions of the books, in contrast to the usual 25 percent that most publishers provide. Amazon will have exclusive e-book rights for a year.
Last month, Amazon signed another high-profile author to an ebook exclusive: best-selling Brazilian writer Paolo Coelho agreed to give the company and the Kindle exclusive rights to Portugese versions of 17 of his popular novels. None of Coelho’s books have been available in e-book format before. A recent report also confirmed that British author Ian McEwan signed an exclusive deal last year for electronic publishing rights to five of his books in return for 50 percent of the royalties.
One wonders whether any of these authors will want to renegotiate their exclusive deals, now that Amazon is offering authors and publishers 70 percent royalties instead of just 50 percent. In any case, the upward pressure on royalty rates is a welcome sign of increased competition in book publishing, thanks to both Amazon and Apple, and that is something many authors will no doubt be pleased to see.
Meanwhile, Amazon continues its fight to keep e-book prices low, although it appears to be steadily losing ground in that battle. After Macmillan refused to lower its prices to the $9.99 that Amazon was demanding, the electronic retailer yanked the publishers books from its shelves (both print and electronic), but was later forced to capitulate. Since then, two other publishers have also renegotiated higher prices with the company. Amazon has since put print versions of Macmillan books back on its virtual shelves, but according to a recent report, it is still not stocking Kindle versions.
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