“You would submit your manuscript,” David explains. “Our editors would review it. If we agree to publish it, we would enhance it with audio playback and word highlighting, and create the personalization tool for the text. We would then make the book available on the web, iPhone, iPod Touch, and iPad in days.”
Days? He must have meant to say months.
“This process would be weeks instead of 18 months to bring a traditional book to market.”
Okay, so what’s the catch for authors and illustrators? We must have to pay to bring our stories to life, no?
“We are not currently charging authors and illustrators to enhance and distribute their books," David says. "We understand they are plunging into this paradigm, so we want to be as supportive as possible.
“We offer 30 percent royalty on the net price of a book. For example, for a $1.99 book purchased on iTunes, Apple received 30 percent of that, which leaves $1.40. Authors and illustrators received 30 percent of that $1.40, or $0.42. So if an author/illustrator creates a book that gets downloaded 10,000 times, they received $4,200.”
That 30 percent would be split between an author and an illustrator, so for picture book authors, that’s about 15 percent, or in this example, $0.21.
How does that compare with the traditional model? According to Harold Underdown’s Purple Crayon website, for a traditional 32-page picture book priced at $16,
“Half of the $16 is the wholesaler and bookseller's part--their overhead and profits. On average, the publisher receives $8, or perhaps a little more. Assuming that the publisher does a print run of 10,000 copies (this is fairly typical), of that $8.00,Let's point that out again: That $1.60 is split between author and illustrator, so for the writer, we're talking about $0.80 per book sold. Compared with about $0.21 in the e-book example. So how can an author hope to come out ahead selling digital picture books for $1.99 online?
• $3.20 is overhead
• $1.60 is the royalty to author and illustrator
• $1.76 is the cost of paper, printing, and binding (binding is about half of that)
• $0.64 is the cost of preparing the plates
This leaves 80 cents profit per book, assuming all goes well and that the entire printing is sold. And assuming, on the other hand, no subsidiary rights income, which would increase the amount of profit.”
It remains to be seen how these markets will play out. One thing to keep in mind is that not every traditional picture book is going to sell 10,000 copies. Many do not even come close. While for the digital book, the market is very different.
“There are currently 75 million iPhone, iPod Touches, and iPads in the United States,” David says, “so even a small fraction of that market is very large.”