Warning: this is a no-edit zone….
In email today, I received an invitation to become an affilate of booksfree.com, an online paperback book rental program akin to Netflix. The link it provided to further investigate led to Commission Junction, the same company Harlequin/Silhouette uses for its affiliate book sellers.
So now there is an online rental place for books. And when coupled with the insights gleaned from last years studies on online used book sales (they’ve soared!), authors must realize that these are significant developments in the industry.
I’ve never been opposed to used books sales; readers find new-to-them writers through that venue. Yet with the increase of sales in that area, we have also seen a decline of the sales on new books.
For those who are not aware, authors do not receive royalties on used books. They do not receive royalties on rentals beyond the initial each book sale.
So authors, and those aspiring to become published authors, be aware of this challenge. Online book sales are growing at an incredible rate. New sales are not expanding as a result, but are diminishing. And now rentals will be added into the mix.
Will rentals stimulate sales or diminish them? I don’t know. But one industry insider noted that a typical rental (library purchase) on a paperback original title would be read roughly five times and then retired. If rentals are read five times and then retired, publisher and author have lost four sales.
Some authors might well gain new readers. Some might still buy the books new. But many will stop buying new books and rent them instead.
Personally, I’m watching the authors organizations to see what their expanded view on this issue will be. That it must be addressed is apparent. How it will be addressed is anyone’s guess.
I look back to Napster and the music industry; to iTunes now. They found a solution that didn’t run their artists out of business. I’m sure authors will, too.
And I hope they do so before we see authors wearing signs and posting them on their web sites: “Will Write for Snacks. (Writing for Food is my pipe dream.)”