Back in July 2006 I wrote:
E-books will push this change even more. There is no reason why authors’ royalties should be the same on e-books as they are for paper books and in many ways there is no reason why the authors cannot sell e-books themselves rather than through a publisher. Why should you sell a paper publisher your digital rights when there is no need?
And the change was forthcoming. The last six or seven years it has been rapid in fact. If anything marks that change more dramatically then the new that a once self published author doing a deal with a big New York house that did not include ebook rights, I don’t know of it:
In the end, it was Simon & Schuster who crafted a deal specifically to my needs, a deal for the print rights that would augment the success I was having on my own by doing what they do best: bringing out a book and getting it in the hands of booksellers. On March 12th, paperback and hardback editions of WOOL will become available to a wider audience. Soon, an entirely new readership will have an opportunity to sink into the world of the silo. They will get a chance to feel Holstons grief, follow Jahnss journey, and meet Juliette for the very first time. I couldn’t be happier about this deal. I am very appreciative of the opportunity I’m being given, appreciative of the readers who kept WOOL going long enough for a deal like this to come to fruition, and appreciative of an agent who was willing to say “No” with me even when it was against her best interests, all because she believed in seeing the same publishing future that I believe in.
Philip Jones has a nice take on what publishers need to do to work with self publishers and much of what he says is valid, but I think the key point is that publishers must recognize that there has been a power shift on the field of play and the author is no longer without options.
Traditional Publishing isn’t going away because of this shift mind you, and importantly not every author has the market power to resist the demand to pass over ebook rights, but this does mark a new and important acknowledgment of the shift driven by digital and authors.