Global Trade Talk: Macmillan Pushes for Lower E-book Royalties; Bookstore Numbers Down in Germany, US

In Global Trade Talk by Edward Nawotka

By Edward Nawotka and Siobhan O’Leary

Publishers Marketplace broke the news earlier today of a new contract being pushed out by Macmillian to agents in the United States that asserts the company will only offer a 20% royalty rate for e-books, down from the typical 25% and would be applicable to “all exploitation of the content of the book in digital form.” Agent Richard Curtis, who posted the letter from Macmillan’s John Sargent to his blog, suggested to the New York Times that the move was entirely in the wrong direction: “The point is whether we should be playing on such a low ballfield at all and whether the industry should not really be thinking about a 50 percent royalty of net receipts.”

A survey conducted by buchreport reveals that the number of bookstore branches in Germany is decreasing for the first time in several years. The number is down 3% this year to 945 and has mostly affected small specialty shops in the DBH Group, which closed several Weltbild and Wohlthat branches. Overall selling space for the survey group increased by only 1.2% (as opposed to the previous year when that increase was +13%). Book chains are also filling more of their space with non-book products like gifts and DVDs.

Meanwhile, in the United States, Publishers Weekly reports that Barnes & Noble—the largest bookstore chain in the United States—anticipates that the large format bookstores will shrink in coming years. All the company’s B. Dalton stores will be closed by January and company COO Mitch Klipper said during a recent earnings conference call, “There are 1,500 superstores now, there won’t be 1,500 five years from now.”

About the Author

Edward Nawotka

A widely published critic and essayist, Edward Nawotka serves as a speaker, educator and consultant for institutions and businesses involved in the global publishing and content industries. He was also editor-in-chief of Publishing Perspectives since the launch of the publication in 2009 until January 2016.