Writer dumps publisher, launches self-publishing venture, over e-book royalties

writer dumps publisher launches self publishing venture over e book royalties simpsonThe argument between the author of a best-selling memoir and his publisher over the amount of royalties he was owed from sales of the digital editions of his work, has led to the author not only leaving the publisher, but going on to set up a new publishing house for himself and calling on other writers to join him.

Joe Simpson, a mountaineer whose book Touching The Void chronicles a life-and-death struggle to survive in the Peruvian Andes, ended what he described as a “huge dispute” with Jonathan Cape, by splitting with the company and branding them as bullies who unfairly try to keep money from authors.

“They thought they could bully me into accepting 25-percent royalties even though I owned 100 percent of [the rights],” Simpson explained in a YouTube video he released to announce the new self-published edition of the book. “[It] seems to be a fairly common tactic of the big publishing houses,” he went on. “They like intimidating and bullying their authors, basically threatening to not publish them any more if they won’t accept these ridiculous royalty rates.”

25-percent royalties on digital editions is a common figure for mainstream publishers, despite outcry from authors who believe that the reduced cost of manufacturing required for e-books should mean a higher rate of royalty (50-percent is one figure that has been bandied about). When considering the reduced rate of manufacturing required for digital books, Simpson apparently took that logic further and started questioning whether or not he could handle being an e-book publisher himself.

“I realized when I had this battle with them that I didn’t need them,” he explained. “We don’t really need [publishers] as much as they would like us to think. OK, they have all the influence over book marketing and publicity, they have all the literary editors of the newspapers and magazines in their pockets, and they can ratchet that up, but they don’t need to take 75-percent of your royalties to do that.”

The result of this train of thought is the creation of DirectAuthors.com, a digital publishing company created and owned by Simpson that plans to offer 40-50 percent to authors on e-book sales. “There is a certain amount of debate in the industry about royalty rates,” admits the company’s managing director, Marek Kriwald. “Some people are quite happy with whatever’s offered, and others analyze the situation and decide it should be different… You have to question 75-percent [going to the publishers] – there’s very little they need to do for that money.”

A spokesman for Random House, the parent company of Jonathan Cape, released a statement in response to Simpson’s comments, saying that the company was “disappointed to have not been able to reach an agreement with Joe about his e-book publishing, however we continue to publish his books in physical format.”

Emerging Tech

New simulation shows how Elon Musk’s internet satellite network might work

Elon Musk has the dream of building a network for conveying internet traffic via thousands of satellites. A new simulation created by a computer scientist looks at how feasible the idea is.
Smart Home

Drinkworks and Keurig have created a pod-based cocktail machine

HomeBar, a collaboration between Drinkworks and Keurig, creates cocktails the easy way. The machine creates mixed drinks of all kinds. All you have to do is insert in the pod for the drink you want.
Movies & TV

Stan Lee has died: Marvel Comics icon and legendary creator dead at 95

Stan Lee, one of the world's most important and iconic comic-book authors, has died at the age of 95. Creator of some of the most famous and beloved superheroes and villains of all time, Lee leaves behind an indelible legacy.
Movies & TV

The best shows on Netflix, from 'The Haunting of Hill House’ to ‘The Good Place’

Looking for a new show to binge? Lucky for you, we've curated a list of the best shows on Netflix, whether you're a fan of outlandish anime, dramatic period pieces, or shows that leave you questioning what lies beyond.

How to change your Gmail password in just a few quick steps

Regularly updating your passwords is a good way to stay secure online, but each site and service has their own way of doing it. Here's a quick guide on how to change your Gmail password in a few short steps.

Need a free alternative to Adobe Illustrator? Here are our favorites

Photoshop and other commercial tools can be expensive, but drawing software doesn't need to be. This list of the best free drawing software is just as powerful as some of the more expensive offerings.

Google honors Veterans Day by highlighting military service stories

For Veterans Day, Google is honoring the heroes that served the country with a new Google Doodle that highlights the stories of five veterans from the five different branches of the military.

Edit, sign, append, and save with 12 of the best PDF editors

There are plenty of PDF editors to be had online, and though the selection is robust, finding a solid solution with the tools you need can be tough. Here, we've rounded up best PDF editors, so you can edit no matter your budget or OS.
Emerging Tech

Alibaba’s Singles’ Day sale smashes online shopping records

The annual online shopping frenzy that is Singles' Day this year raked in $30.8 billion, up from $25 billion last time around. The Alibaba-organized event generates more in sales than Black Friday and Cyber Monday combined.

Apple to boost its Amazon presence with listings for iPhones, iPads, and more

Apple is about to start offering more of its kit on Amazon. The tech giant currently only has very limited listings on the shopping site, but the deal will see the arrival of the latest iPhones, iPads, MacBooks, and more.

If you've lost a software key, these handy tools can find it for you

Missing product keys getting you down? We've chosen some of the best software license and product key finders in existence, so you can locate and document your precious keys on your Windows or MacOS machine.

Will Chrome remain our favorite web browser with the arrival of newest version?

Choosing a web browser for surfing the web can be tough with all the great options available. Here we pit the latest versions of Chrome, Opera, Firefox, Edge, and Vivaldi against one another to find the best browsers for most users.

Zoom in on famous works through the Art Institute of Chicago’s new website

Art lovers, listen up. The Art Institute of Chicago has given its website a serious makeover with new features that let you get up close and personal with more than 50,000 artworks by famous (and not so famous) artists.

Over a million veterans now eligible for Comcast’s Internet Essentials program

Comcast's low-cost Internet Essentials program, which provides internet access for just $10 per month, has expanded to include U.S. veterans. One million veterans now qualify for the service.