Sunday, April 28, 2013

Thoughts on the “Death of the American Author"

A fairly recent (April 7) commentary by Scott Turow, the president of the Authors Guild, is titled “The Slow Death of the American Author.” 

While ostensibly a commentary on the first use aspect of printed books, it is a bleak assessment on the ability of an author to make a living in the U.S. And by author, I and he mean full length manuscripts and books.

I want to rail against his assessment, but the problem is that over the past few years my assessment is rather similar to Scott’s.

Think how scary it would be for the author if Amazon wins the right to “resell” used ebooks? No royalty for that second and third re-selling of an ebook. All those self-published authors who think Amazon is the next best thing to sliced bread might re-assess that if one book gets sold, via the “used” market one million times. Net royalties for the author: $2. Net revenue for Amazon, $2 million. A scary permutation of the “first use” law that will probably NOT happen, but given the U.S. copyright and patent law rulings of the past 10 years, not totally out of the question.

The changes are slow. There will be some upsides along the way. But, I wish I had a great response to counter Scott. I don’t.

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