Saturday, March 21, 2015

Book Royalty Minimums

Book royalties of academic monographs are usually something people joke about because they are so low (unless you are Thomas Piketty!). But I noticed something today that got me thinking more about the state of the industry and the relationship between the press and the author.

In 2010 I co-edited a book on the Bachelet government at the University Press of Florida with Silvia Borzutzky. Today I received the royalty notice, which said I earned $30 (hence the joking) but could not receive a check until it reached $150. All presses have some minimum, though that seemed fairly high.

This means there are quite a few authors who have earned royalties but have not reached the $150 threshold, so UPF keeps the money. Unless there is a miraculous jump in sales, I will never see that money, which seems unfair in principle regardless of how small an amount we're talking about. If you add up all the authors, I would think it is not an insignificant amount.

On the other hand, I am all too aware of the precarious state of university presses. There is administrative cost associated with processing royalties, and a razor-thin profit margin at least potentially makes that a loss for the press if the amount is too low. That is, the press is not making enough money on the book to merit paying someone to deal with the processing.

I figure other presses will also start increasing those minimums. I suppose I would too if I were in their position. The benefit to the author for academic monographs is related to his/her own job, not to profit. In my case, for example, that book contributed to my promotion from Associate to Full Professor in 2012. Now what I'm doing is helping to subsidize the press, if only very modestly.


  © Blogger templates The Professional Template by 2008

Back to TOP