For those of us whose heads are still spinning from trying to understand all the hoopla, both philosophical and financial, over pricing and distribution of ebooks, this article gets to the dollars and sense of the matter.
For example, on a hardcover book priced at $26, “the publisher is left with $4.05, out of which it must pay overhead for editors, cover art designers, office space and electricity before taking a profit.” For a $12.99 ebook, the publisher is left “with something ranging from $4.56 to $5.54, before paying overhead costs or writing off unearned advances.”
In fact, the industry is based on the understanding that as much as 70 percent of the books published will make little or no money at all for the publisher once costs are paid.
Some of these books are by writers who are experimenting with form or genre, or those who just do not have recognizable names. “You’re less apt to take a chance on an important first novel if you don’t have the profit margin on the volume of the big books,” said Lindy Hess, director of the Columbia Publishing Course, a program that trains young aspirants for jobs in the publishing industry. “The truth about this business is that, with rare exceptions, nobody makes a great deal of money.”
All of this explains, if nothing else, why publishers are no longer spending the money for copy editors to clean up all those annoying little errors that have become so prevalent in printed books.