The NYT’s Motoko Rich does some e-book accounting and finds that e-books may make money for publishers, but not enough! Per copy, they will make “$4.56 to $5.54, before paying overhead costs or writing off unearned advances.” But they are also afraid that e-books will erode the audience for paperbacks, and so publishers are freaking out, but quietly, because it doesn’t seem like she could actually find any to quote on the record. (Instead she gets a guy who’s a “consultant to publishers,” who thinks publishers should “slow down the movement to e-books,” and Lindy Hess, the head of the Columbia Publishing Course, who would of course like to see as many jobs in the industry maintained so that her program may continue to invite Sonny Mehta to speak.) But Anne Rice, of all people, has the most sensible take.
“None of us know what books cost. None of us know what kind of profits hardcover or paperback publishers make,” said Anne Rice, the author of “Interview With a Vampire” and the “Songs of the Seraphim” series.
She said she did not know whether publishers had struck the right price for e-books. “For all I know, a million books at $9.99 might be great for an author,” Ms. Rice said. “The only thing I think is a mistake is people trying to hold back e-books or Kindle and trying to head off this revolution by building a dam. It’s not going to work.”