When it comes to self-publishing, we Americans tend to think in the context of Amazon and other American businesses. But there are now thriving self-publishing companies all over the world, and Publishing Perspectives has a report on a couple of them in Germany, Epubli and XinXii. These companies by and large give authors most of the revenue on their e-books when sold through their websites, save for when they have to work through a separate distributor like Amazon.
XinXii recently made a deal with Mondia Media to make its e-books available in German e-book stores of Vodafone, T-Mobile, and Sony, but also internationally. However, the deal came with an additional bite out of authors’ revenues—on e-books sold through these channels, XinXii’s CEO said authors get “somewhat less” than the 50% royalty they get from Amazon sales.
The article isn’t really clear on what international bookstores XinXii distributes through, apart from its CEO mentioning Spain’s “Casa del Librio”. Given that it already had Amazon, it’s hard to see this deal as a lot more symbolic—XinXii gets to say that it is “international” without actually losing its authors that much revenue, because they probably won’t sell that many e-books, relatively speaking, through these stores anyway.
Still, as Publishing Perspectives’ Andrea DeMarco points out:
The best self-publishing companies have the true wherewithal to claim that they’re good for authors and an improvement over unjust and inefficient traditional publishing hierarchies. However, once authors are receiving less than half of the revenue from their books in exchange for mere distribution, it’s hard to see how such a platform can claim either an economic edge or moral high ground.
If a publisher’s going to pay you less than half of the revenue, shouldn’t they be doing more for the money than just distributing it to other services? Especially when you could put it in Amazon yourself and keep more of the money?
But that being said, if the self-publishing market isn’t as mature over there yet, it’s not surprising there might be some costs to getting distributed as widely as you can.