Just this week, HarperCollins announced that they would give authors a royalty incentive (35% of net instead of 25% of net) on any sales of an individual author’s book(s) that are sold via an affiliate link to HarperCollins’ new consumer-facing branded book retail site.
In other words, if the author is directly responsible for the sale, they get a higher royalty percentage. (Note: this only holds true for sales of books by the author. Authors can’t provide HarperCollins links to other author books and get an affiliate commission on the sale.)
To sum up, authors are rewarded if the sale is made directly through their publisher.
So does that pit authors against booksellers?
In my mind, the answer is no. Here’s why. HarperCollins is not mandating that their authors provide and feature ONLY links to the HarperCollins’ branded retail site.
HC is simply asking that the link be included along with all the other retail links to Amazon, Barnes & Noble, Kobo, Google, Indiebound (the consortium of independent booksellers), etc.
If HarperCollins mandated that authors could only use their links on websites, newsletters, and email blasts, that could create a problem.
But it does raise another interesting thought. If Publishers have online storefronts? Are they in direct competition with booksellers? After all, they are now selling direct-to-consumers.
(By the way, Publishers have always had the ability to sell directly to readers via mail order, phone sales, catalog, and special sales, but it hasn’t been a big revenue avenue in the past, except for some specific titles.)
That answer is probably yes, if a publisher’s retail store starts building real market share.