Wednesday, June 1

Publishers are under-reporting electronic book sales

This is what well-known and respected agent Kristin Nelson wrote yesterday on her popular blog, Pub Rants:

Publishers are under-reporting electronic book sales in any given period on the royalty statements we are seeing.

That's a fact.

Wow! This is big. 

(By the way, Kristin's post wasn't primarily about publishers under-reporting ebook sales, it was about one of her authors, Courtney Milan, deciding to turn down a deal from Harlequin to self-publish. For more on Courtney's decision see her blog post on the subject as well as her interview over on the site Smart Bitches, Trashy Books.)

A few weeks ago I read Kristine Kathryn Rusch's blog post, The Business Rusch: Royalty Statements Update, where she wrote that publishers are under-reporting their ebook sales. (I also blogged about it.) I talked to a few of my friends after I wrote that post, they weren't writers, and they flat out did not believe that any reputable publishing company would under-report sales.

Well, it looks like publishers are indeed under-reporting ebooks sales.  I respect Kristine Rusch but she was just one person saying it.  Now it's two.  Two very respected people in the book industry.  I have no doubt that neither of these women would make this claim publicly if they weren't sure and if they didn't have proof.

It will be interesting to see this subject develop.


  1. Wow, that's quite a revelation. I think Konrath alluded to something like that on his latest post, but I don't remember for sure. If this is true, it raises a number of questions. I have to wonder about their motivations. If it's intentional, I would assume it's out of fear and could be some sort of attempt to slow this transition... which basically tells me the big boys are now hanging on by their fingernails. Of course, the way the industry moves (like the Titanic heading for that fateful iceberg) I wouldn't be surprised to find they don't even know exactly how many books they're selling. After all, it can take a year for some publishers to calculate a writer's royalties and get the check sent.

  2. I'm glad someone else caught that! I think Joe Konrath said something in a comment on one of his blogs and I thought he might do a blog post on the under-reporting of royalties, but nada so far. I'm hoping he will at some point since it concerns ebooks.

    I wouldn't be surprised to find they don't even know exactly how many books they're selling.

    I agree, the under-reporting might not be intentional.

    Thanks for the comment!

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