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Self-publishing News: Barnes And Noble Royalty Wobbles

Self-publishing News: Barnes and Noble Royalty Wobbles

Dan Holloway head and shoulders photo

ALLi News Editor Dan Holloway

In this week's Self-Publishing News, ALLi News Editor Dan Holloway takes a look at Barnes and Noble's problems paying royalties and booksellers' challenges. 

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Remember, ALLi publishes a summary of the questions and answers from its weekly #IndieAuthorChat Twitter chat on the ALLi blog. This will be published on the Tuesday after the chat. And a reminder that ALLi has created a resource that seeks to answer any questions you may have about Covid-19, from concerns about the impact on events to ideas and news about how the services we rely on are responding. And as we look at online events in the news, do read this fabulous ALLi post on how to host online events as an author.

Barnes and Noble Royalties

This is a story which was just emerging when I spoke to Howard for the podcast last week. Barnes and Noble, like other bookstores, are finding lockdown measures during the current crisis tough. While restrictions are bad for all bookstores, though, the impact on Barnes and Noble is felt much wider. That’s because Barnes and Noble aren’t just a bricks and mortar store. They sell ebooks. And many of us indies make our books available through them. We tend to do this through a multichannel distribution platform.

In the past week, Barnes and Noble have written to (at least) two of those channels explaining that they are having problems paying royalties on ebooks. Draft2Digital and Smashwords have both published statements. It now seems that Barnes and Noble will be paying the balance of outstanding royalties swiftly, and those royalties will then pay forward to authors. But this remains an ongoing problem, and if things get worse, payments may get even later. Watch with caution (if you sell many books through Barnes and Noble, at least).

Changes at Patreon

We’ve spoken a lot about the rise of subscription services recently. And, of course, this presents a great opportunity for indies. Many of us have opted not, or not just, to make titles available through subscription platforms like Storytel. We make work directly available to our own personal subscribers in return for a small monthly fee. And most of us who do that do it through Patreon. In March, Patreon welcomed 50,000 new creators, with average earnings up by over 50%. But they have still announced that they are laying off 13% of their workforce as they attempt to get through the crisis. As in so many places, it's a very mixed story.

Bookshop and Amazon: Booksellers' concerns

Amazon are used to having, um, interesting weeks. And this has been no exception. We have been following the stories of campaigns to help independent bookstores during the coronavirus crisis. And this week saw one particularly significant donation – of £250,000 – to a fund to help stores in the UK. The recipient, Book Trade Charity, said originally that the donor was “”committed to independent bookshops as part of a mixed bookselling economy”. It soon emerged that the benefactor was, yes, Amazon. And the Booksellers’ Association took issue with that definition. They would, they said, much rather Amazon showed their support for booksellers by paying tax like the rest of them.

Meanwhile the American Booksellers Association have been getting in on the act of being upset about things that at first sight seem positive. In this case, that’s the Bookshop app. We have featured this before. Bookshop is an app that lets people buy books online and have a cut go to their local bookseller. It’s another great way of supporting bookshops during the crisis. And it is doing very well. So that’s good, surely? Well, it would be. Except as the ABA has pointed out, not every store benefitting is actually a bookstore. It seems that to set up an account on Bookshop to benefit from sales of books you don’t actually have to be a bookshop.

Industry in Change

It's inevitable that things are changing in the book world right now. We've looked at the mixed picture in regard to audio. This week, Publishers' Weekly has a very interesting piece looking at the way print sales have changed. It confirms that people are still buying print but are now ordering online (sometimes through the Bookshop app!). And Mike Shatzkin has a fascinating insight into how, ultimately, this may change the logistics of the industry, in particular the links between print and warehousing and distribution. What is going to be really interesting in the next weeks is how bookshops fare in the places where they are beginning to open up. It seems that in Germany and the USA, there is a long road ahead that we will follow with interest!

Barnes and Noble struggle with royalties to ebook distribution platforms and top #selfpub news stories for #indieauthors, in one quick read, by #ALLi News Editor Dan Holloway @agnieszkasshoes #digitaleconomy #publishingopenup Click To Tweet

Over to You

Let us know about great online events of interest to indies, and novel ways of moving what you do online in the comments below.

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Author: Dan Holloway

Dan Holloway is a novelist, poet and spoken word artist. He is the MC of the performance arts show The New Libertines, which has appeared at festivals and fringes from Manchester to Stoke Newington. In 2010 he was the winner of the 100th episode of the international spoken prose event Literary Death Match, and earlier this year he competed at the National Poetry Slam final at the Royal Albert Hall. His latest collection, The Transparency of Sutures, is available for Kindle at http://www.amazon.co.uk/Transparency-Sutures-Dan-Holloway-ebook/dp/B01A6YAA40


This Post Has 2 Comments
  1. I have about £13 in unpaid royalties on B&N – about £5 from this year and £8 last year – so not a great deal. But at £10 you are supposed to get paid out. I emailed B&N several times but never get a reply. I also use Lulu and they seem to pay out on time. Downside with Lulu is if you make a change to your book and want GLOBAL DISTRIBUTION you must buy your own book and approve it. This would not be so bad but sometimes your book just gets stuck in distribution pending. Lulu had many bugs a year back but slowly they are getting better – they do answer your emails but it can take over 1 week. My book called THE PLANDEMIC now in version 5 has made me £30 on lulu this year – I give it away making only about 50p profit as I just want to share the information I have researched.

  2. Dear Dan Holloway,
    First of all, Royal Albert Hall,: Alas, I knew it well!” I loved London and wanted to stay there. Well, you did explain the glitches involved these days because of the virus, but I’m not sure in my particular situation. I’ve self-published my book (paperback and ebook), “Getting Even” through Barnes and Noble Press. On 6/21/20, the ad for it was in the NY Times Book Review section. Virus or not, especially if you include their digital news coverage, plus the free high school NY Times throughout the US, some sales other than the two books recorded should be there!! I spent $2,000 for that ad and I believe I should have gotten a decent return on that investment. As yet, I’ve not gotten a response from the B&N Press support team. Thank you. Sincerely, Tom MacDonald

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