Should book editors receive royalties?

Should book editors receive royalties, in the same way music producers receive royalties? The publishing industry is fighting to say no.

Should book editors receive royalties?

Book editor Ann Patty’s guest editorial on the subject of whether editors should receive royalties for their work (read it here on Publishing Perspectives) is causing a quiet stir, but a stir nonetheless.

Patty writes:

Low pay has been part of the ethos, profit participation rare to unheard of. It’s time to change that. Book editors should receive a royalty.

Mark Barrett from Ditchwalk replied:

I’m sorry that you feel as if you’ve been exploited. I’m not sure that the correct solution is to legitimize the exploitation of someone else.

Whatever the arguments, and there will be many, I am forever intrigued by the notion that there has to be a single solution to any given problem.

Music industry executives failed to understand the fundamental truth that there wasn’t one, simple solution to their industry’s disruption. Indeed, former Sony/BMG COO Michael Smellie reinforced the point at yesterday’s creative3 forum in Brisbane, AU. He told me during one of the breaks that he didn’t see any end to the current disruption during the next decade.

Business models will come and go. Some will be short-lived while others will stay a little longer, only to adapt as commercial environments change. It will be quite some time before any unitary path emerges. Until then, editors should test the ‘royalty against fee’ waters and see what happens; if they can find a willing publisher that is.