Amazon doubles Kindle royalties (with strings attached)

Amazon has gone from offering authors and publishers 35% royalties to 70% royalties.

Why the sudden act of generosity you ask?

Perhaps it has something to do with the competition. Apple’s iPad offers a 70% royalty rate by default. And Google’s upcoming Editons Program is said to offer a 63% royalty (I’m not sure how they came up with this number).

So if you’re an author on the Kindle, upgrading to 70% seems like a no-brainer.

But here’s the catch. In order to participate:

  • Your book has to be priced between $2.99 and $9.99
  • The price must be at least 20% below the lowest list price for the physical book
  • The price must be at or below the price offered by any competitive bookseller
  • The title is made available in all geographies in which you own the rights (you can’t pick and choose markets)

I’m not crazy. I switched from 35% to 70%.

I did notice that Amazon tacks on a “distribution fee” — of 7 cents in my case. Doesn’t seem like much I know but Amazon, given its volume, is basically in the pennies business.

This battle between Amazon, Apple and Google is sure getting interesting.

UPDATE: One thing I forgot to stress earlier is that Amazon is incentivizing publishers and authors to price books more reasonably. I think this is a good thing — as both an author and a reader. Over the past decade I’ve watched as hardcovers became more and more expensive, to the point where I would decide either to wait for the paperback or put in a request at the library. The ebook movement is bringing some much-needed pricing sanity to the industry — though things are going to be a bit insane over the next few years.

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