The iPad may sometimes seem like a boondoggle for authors (Yet another must-have device? Now I need an app for my memoir?), but it has been a bona-fide boon for e-book vendors. Caught in the middle are agents and traditional publishers, trying to carve out new territory for themselves and their clients. In April 2010, Sarah Baker explained the finer points of the chaotic electronic book market, informing authors of the state of e-rights, royalties, piracy, and pricing in this competitive (and lucrative) landscape. Let’s trace the zigs and zags of the e-book industry in the year since.
Electronic rights are the chaotic bazaar of book publishing. Here authors barter with agents, agents haggle with publishers, and publishers brawl with e-retailers. Everyone is vying for his or her claim on the best pomegranate.
This frenzy, and a barrage of media attention, has left most people involved feeling confused. So what should a writer know in a labyrinth of twisting alleys and ad-hoc product stands? Here are some key terms and general guidelines to the unstable warren of the U.S. market.