Posts Tagged ‘Shanda’

Who makes money off digital publishing?

Tuesday, May 24th, 2011

As recounted in this week’s edition of the Southern Metropolis Daily book review, Murong Xuecun posted an “Open Letter to Shanda Literature” on his blog complaining that he had received no royalties whatsoever during the three years he granted the netlit giant exclusive digital rights to his book Dancing Through Red Dust (原谅我红尘颠倒 , 2008).

Shanda was supposed to share revenue with the author at a 7:3 split (in the author’s favor), to paid out quarterly. In his open letter, Murong declared his intention to terminate the agreement if his revenue was truly zero. He retracted the open letter when Shanda representatives called him and gave him a full royalty statement, which if anything was more of an insult: the company explained that it only issued royalty statements in amounts greater than 500 RMB, and Murong’s novel had only accumulated 300 RMB in royalties over three years.

That sum represents his share of income from 5.5 million clicks, serializations rights in Singapore, and an e-book.

Murong Xuecun shot to fame with Leave Me Alone, Chengdu (成都,今夜请将我遗忘, 2002), which was posted to the Tianya BBS before making the jump to print. His recent novels have appeared in print first, which may account for their poor performance in the online marketplace.

However, the Shanghai Morning Post adds a wrinkle that suggests there’s more to this than simple reading habits:

慕容雪村说:“2009年我问过一次,当时说该分给我1400多元,过了一年多,变成300多元。我不知道这账是怎么算的。”

Murong Xuecun said, “I asked once in 2009 and they said then that my share was more than 1,400 RMB. More than a year later, that’s become a bit more than 300 RMB. I don’t know how the books are being kept.”

Regardless of how the royalties ended up so low, Murong’s experience will likely lead other print-based authors to think twice about signing e-publishing contracts. Shanghai-based author Chen Cun concludes:

慕容雪村的《红尘颠倒》是经过市场考验的,是热销书,到盛大文学成了一年100大洋的商业,谁会跟年均100块的公司合作?

Murong Xuecun’s Red Dust is market-tested and sold quite well. On Shanda Literature it made 100 smackers a year. Who wants partner up with a 100-a-year company?