Dig­i­tal era hits in­come for writ­ers but opens doors, study con­cludes

China Daily (Canada) - - EXPATS - By AGENCE FRANCE-PRESSE in­Wash­ing­ton

The dig­i­tal era is cut­ting into in­come for book au­thors, mak­ing it more dif­fi­cult to live off writ­ing alone, a sur­vey by the Au­thors Guild said Tues­day.

The sur­vey said in­come for full­time US au­thors in 2015 fell 30 per­cent from 2009 to $17,500, and part­time au­thors saw a 38 per­cent drop in in­come to $4,500.

“Au­thors’ in­come is down. This is the re­sult of a con­flu­ence of fac­tors,” the study found.

“The ubiq­uity of e-books means that online book piracy is more of a threat than it was in 2009. We’ve seen ma­jor con­sol­i­da­tion within the tra­di­tional pub­lish­ing in­dus­try, which means less di­ver­sity among pub­lish­ers and their in­creased fo­cus on the bot­tom line.”

Tra­di­tional pub­lish­ers’ dom­i­nance of the mar­ket­place mean­while is be­ing eroded by the rise of self-pub­lish­ing, the study noted.

The re­port also sin­gled out Ama­zon— a fre­quent tar­get of the writ­ers’ group— say­ing its­dom­i­nance­has led to the shut­ter­ing of thou­sands of brick-and-mor­tar book­stores and has “made the busi­ness of au­thor­ship both more di­verse and less prof­itable than it was six years ago.”

Pub­lish­ers Weekly, which first re­ported the find­ings, said the study found a ma­jor­ity of au­thors would be liv­ing be­low the US poverty line if they re­lied solely on in­come from their writ­ing.

“The pic­ture’s not pretty, but there are sil­ver lin­ings,” the study said.

“The rise of hy­brid au­thor­ship isan ex­cit­ing de­vel­op­ment: Au­thors can now have more free­dom in choos­ing a method of pub­li­ca­tion and pro­mo­tion that suits the­need­sof the spe­cific book they're try­ing to mar­ket.”

And it noted that “the op­por­tu­ni­ties for au­thor-reader en­gage­ment are un­sur­passed in the history of book pub­lish­ing — even if this en­gage­ment com­petes with an au­thor’s writ­ing time.”

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