What Publishing Fears: The John Galt Maneuver

In Ayn Rand’s novel Atlas Shrugged, factory minion John Galt wakes up to the way the game has been rigged against him and decides to withdraw his sanction of it.

And now this …

Author Grants Exclusive E-Book Rights to Amazon

That title is very misleading. Best-selling author Stephen Covey is stripping Simon & Schuster of electronic rights and signing them over to RosettaBooks — and they will sell exclusively through the Kindle Book Store.

These are the most important bits:

Arthur Klebanoff, chief executive of RosettaBooks, said that Mr. Covey will receive more than half of the net proceeds that RosettaBooks takes in from Amazon on these e-book sales. In contrast, the standard digital royalty from mainstream publishers is 25 percent of net proceeds.

“There are superstars, and superstars are entitled to more,” Mr. Klebanoff said.

Sean Covey, a son of Mr. Covey and chief innovation officer for Franklin Covey, a training and consulting firm that also publishes business books, said that the higher royalty rate was “a factor” in the decision to switch to Amazon. The elder Mr. Covey was also particularly attracted by Amazon’s plans to heavily promote the e-book editions of both “7 Habits” and “Principle Centered Leadership.”

Boldfaced emphasis added by me.

And this perhaps most of all:

But the younger Mr. Covey noted that Franklin Covey is also experimenting with self-publishing new books, another way of cutting out the traditional print publisher. In August, the company published “Predictable Results in Unpredictable Times” by Stephen R. Covey, Bob Whitman and Breck England. It released an e-book edition through RosettaBooks and exclusively for the Kindle.

Sean Covey said that his father had co-authored another book, “Great Work, Great Career” that Franklin Covey is self-publishing. Amazon will start taking pre-orders for it Tuesday. That book will also be released in a exclusive Kindle e-book edition.

Boldfaced emphasis added by me.

I disagree strongly with the Kindle-only sales. But if Amazon is going to pimp the hell out of them, my objections are lost to the winds.

What matters here is that this is what’s going to start happening in print publishing now.

Covey is a bellwether of what’s to come.

He is probably the best damned person to make this move because his works are perfectly suited to the Jules Verne-like Paris in the Twentieth Century world we are moving towards.

Who is going to be next?

Writers have lamented that all the money goes to the “superstar” writers.

What if all of those “superstars” walk away like Covey has?

7 Responses to What Publishing Fears: The John Galt Maneuver

  1. jenn topper says:

    what if those superstars get fucked by the fact that fewer people buy ebooks than print so even if the royalty ratio is more in their favor, there are fewer sales?

    …AND, frankly, the terms just sound like another suck deal anyway. HALF always sounds better than 2-3%. but half of a percentage of otherwise undisclosed in the article excerpts above, of the *net* proceeds (which means that whole recoupment bullshit) still sounds like suck to me.

    this is still infancy. i’m eager to see how it develops, but I’m not sure anything is a bellwether yet.


    • mikecane says:

      Ah, but you’re forgetting Covey’s audience. They are right out of that Jules Verne novel: everything must be of *practical use*. That’s Covey’s entire spiel: practicality. In addition, think of Kindle buyers: they are obviously higher-income that print book buyers. So, it’s an all-round Win for him, actually.

    • Another juicy bit is seeing how the publishers are going to respond. This is obviously a giant ‘screw you’ from Covey to Simon & Schuster, and it should be. If they keep dicking him, and others, around and delaying selling the ebooks for 4 months just to prop up dying book sales, then he should take away their right to sell it and negotiate with whomever he can for the most $$ and best terms.

      I suppose I can only rely on my own viewpoint, but if there is a book coming out that piques my interest just enough to read some reviews but not enough to buy a hardback, an ebook is a great alternative. Without ebooks, I *might* wait a year to get the paperback for 1/3 the cost of the hardback, but if i can get it via ebook for the same 1/3 cost and the same day it is released in print form, the author will get more money, and sooner. Maybe.

  2. […] The Ebook Test] Mike Cane has an appropriately literary take on Mr. Covey’s decision with a comparison to […]

  3. Social comments and analytics for this post…

    This post was mentioned on Twitter by mikecane: NEW POST: What Publishing Fears: The John Galt Maneuver http://tinyurl.com/ydykfr5 @jafurtado @MoriahJovan @glecharles @revolucion0 @jane_l…

  4. amyknichols says:

    But the thing is, Covey HAS an audience. Why does he have an audience? He was first published in the traditional way. It’s the rare case that works the other way around (a self-published book making it big). And in that case it only makes enough stir to catch the eye of a traditional publishing house editor and they in turn make it a big seller (i.e., The Shack).

    • mikecane says:

      There will come a day when that will change. Perhaps it will take one writer of Covey’s stature to recommend another writer who is direct-published only.

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