Book buying
August 9, 2021 7:08 PM   Subscribe

The meat of my question is how much does the author make from the various formats? Hardback, paperback, eVersion?

I use a Kindle typically, but also enjoy real books and like to help out my local store as well as my favorite authors.
I'm currently looking at a book that is $27 (hardback) at my local store, $18 (hardback) on Amazon, and $14 (kindle). A paperback version is coming out in late September for $17 local.
Anyone have insight on how it all works?
posted by Grok Lobster to Shopping (8 answers total) 3 users marked this as a favorite
Best answer: This depends! In order to see royalties income, the advance has to earn out: the publisher must recoup the $ they paid the author up front (the advance) before the author is paid royalties (income from sales.)

Hardcover and paperback sales get the author royalty that’s a percentage of the list (cover) price; and some royalties escalate based on the number of copies sold. For example, 10% on the first 25,000 hardcovers sold, 12.5% on the next 25,000 copies, 15% after that.

Ebooks are generally a percentage of the amount received by the publisher, say 25%, rather than based on the list price. How much the publisher receives depends on their deal with e.g. Amazon.

Highly discounted sales generally earn authors lower royalties. So if you’re asking because you want the author to see the highest possible share, buy the hardcover soon after it’s published.

There’s a range of standard royalties based on format, publisher, and type of book (such as a novel vs a picture book.)
posted by kapers at 7:36 PM on August 9, 2021 [4 favorites]

Best answer: Amazon vs store isn’t likely to be a factor for print formats if this is a newer title. Amazon’s price slashing of the hardcover doesn’t change the list price on which the author’s royalty is based. Paying full list price will help the store, though!
posted by kapers at 7:41 PM on August 9, 2021 [1 favorite]

Best answer: I'm a book editor. Short answer: it's complicated, and different for every author and publisher.

Corollary: the best way you can support a traditionally published author is to preorder your book, whether from Amazon or your local indie. (This also goes for self-pubbing authors, if they've risen to the level where Amazon will grant them preorder status.)
posted by BlahLaLa at 7:42 PM on August 9, 2021 [7 favorites]

Best answer: Also, the real answer for a lot of books (unless they are bestsellers) is that the author gets essentially nothing no matter what format you buy. The best ways to support an author are to a) pre-order their book and b) leave a five-star review of it on Amazon.
posted by shadygrove at 7:52 PM on August 9, 2021 [5 favorites]

Response by poster: Thank you all! Very helpful.
posted by Grok Lobster at 8:26 PM on August 9, 2021

I know mainly about Amazon KDP (self-publishing) where paperbacks give a 60% royalty, and Kindle e-books give 35% to the author or 70% (usually) if under $10.

Not sure how deals with publishers work, but the rule of thumb for all physical Amazon products is that they take about 50% for shipping/handling/fees.
posted by RobotVoodooPower at 8:31 PM on August 9, 2021

Depends on the contract, and whether self or traditionally published. For example I get 75% for ebooks priced over 2.99, and 30% if they are under. I get nothing for print books I sell online, and 60% for those I hand sell. Best thing to do to support a writer is to leave an honest review, doesn't have to be 5 star, but a review that helps other readers know if a book is for them. Posting about a book on social media is extremely valuable too.
posted by Zumbador at 8:42 PM on August 9, 2021 [3 favorites]

In order to see royalties income, the advance has to earn out: the publisher must recoup the $ they paid the author up front (the advance) before the author is paid royalties (income from sales.)

This actually isn't a universal rule. In my case, royalties on the physical version of my book needed to earn out my advance before I made any additional money. But royalties on my ebook paid out immediately, regardless of total sales.
posted by NotMyselfRightNow at 4:14 AM on August 10, 2021 [2 favorites]

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