The civil society of multimedia authors (SCAM) and the society of people of letters (SDGL) unveiled, on Tuesday March 28, the key figures of the new “barometer of author/publisher relations”.
Book authors feel underpaid for their work. According to a study published Tuesday, March 28 by two representative organizations, some must even insist on receiving their due. This “barometer of author/publisher relations”, carried out every two or three years by the Civil Society of Multimedia Authors (SCAM) and the Society of Literary People (SGDL), shows that the remuneration of the author in the price excluding tax of a book represents, “all genres combined, an average rate of 8.2% for the printed book and 11% for digital exploitation”. This is equivalent to 1.55 euros on a book sold for 20 euros in bookstores.
“These low rates, which have not changed for two years, hide gender disparities”, note the sponsors of the study, carried out at the end of 2022 with 16,000 member authors. Literature pays better on average (9%), with beautiful books (9%), than documents or essays (8%), comics (7%) or children’s books (6%). Rare are those who manage to make a living from the profession of author. They are 67% to exercise another profession, and 65% for whom the books provide less than a quarter of their annual income. Only 22% earn more than half of their income from books. Finally, “49% of perpetrators experience a deterioration in their financial situation”report the SCAM and the SGDL.
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This “barometer” shows each time the perseverance necessary to get paid: “56% have written to their publisher at least once to claim payment of their rights. And they are still 46% to have encountered difficulties in getting paid the rights that are due to them.. They are even 2% to have signed a contract (illegal in principle) which does not include anything on copyright, against 0.5% two years earlier. The competition is fierce: 53% of authors say they have heard from their publisher that “the bottleneck of publication programs” was going to delay or prevent the publication of one of their books.
And they admit to being worried about the reorganization of the publishing sector, with the takeover of the French number one Hachette Livre by the Vivendi group of billionaire Vincent Bolloré. They are 86% to see “a risk of impoverishment of cultural diversity” et 77% “a strong threat to their freedom of expression”.