43

How much do Springer-Verlag authors make per book sold?

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    My first book with Springer was on the basis of of royalties with no advance fee. I am about to be offered a second contract but they are offering an up front fee with no royalties. I am slightly anxious about this and would welcome any advice. – sultony Feb 19 '18 at 14:05
  • There are other benefits to publishing a scientific book than money. E.g., getting a review of the material, professional copy-editing and printing can be itself worth a while over having unpublished lecture notes. – Yet Another Geek Feb 19 '18 at 14:11
  • @YetAnotherGeek Yes, of course. My question and the answers here do lend support to the whole open-access model. – Geremia Feb 24 '18 at 4:18
  • Don't expect much money from academic publishing. After a couple of years it is likely close to zero. If you want to make a lot of money writing, do mystery or romance novels and get famous. A few academics buck this trend if their Calc 1 or Econ 1 book is adopted very widely and becomes a standard. They then become slaves to the process of updating it every year or two. But these are very rare cases. I think I've only known one such person in nearly 50 years. Most of the market is too small and the costs too high for authors to earn much. – Buffy Aug 21 '18 at 17:38
  • The big problem with self publishing and open-access is getting adequate reviews of a work as well as expert copy-editing. You'd be surprised how many mistakes you'll make without outside help. This is the value that publishers add (for taking too large a part of the pie). – Buffy Aug 21 '18 at 17:43
43

This varies substantially, depending on the sort of book, how well the author negotiated (each book involves an individually negotiated contract), the price of the book, etc. Based on one Springer contract I'm familiar with, here's a first approximation. I can't say for sure how representative it is, but it's at least one data point, and I'd guess it's typical for Springer and competing publishers.

For regular sales, the author may get 9-12% of "net cash receipts", defined as what the publisher made on the sale (excluding taxes), with the percentage depending on things like how well the book has sold. Note that "regular sales" excludes some special cases, for which there may be lower royalty rates.

Then the question is how much Springer charged the bookseller for the book. You can download a 6 megabyte zip file of Springer wholesale prices. I glanced at a few math books, and the prices look like they are about 60% of what bookstores are charging. That's certainly the right ballpark, but I haven't computed any real statistics.

So a first approximation is that the author's royalty is probably 5-7% of the price you pay in a bookstore. Considering that academic books are expensive, that's not bad, but nobody's going to grow rich off it. For advanced books, selling 1000 copies in total is very good and selling 10,000 is amazing.

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    I would be interested in the hourly pay for writing such a book :) I guess it would be rather sobering. – xLeitix Apr 15 '14 at 7:35
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    Based on my 1 contract with Springer, I would like to add that the way to get rich (presumably) is translations. The author royalty on those is 50%. Other than that there is a 33% discount on Springer titles, though I haven't used it. Oh and you get a few free copies of your book, in my case I got 5. I haven't seen a cent other than that – Ivar Persson Apr 16 '14 at 15:00
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    @IvarPersson: It's 50% of Springer's net proceeds if they license the translation rights to another publisher, right? (At least that's what I've seen.) Basically, Springer collects royalties from licensed translations and then splits them 50-50 with the original author, but this isn't as lucrative as it sounds since these royalties are only a modest fraction of the price of the translated book (most goes to the translation's publisher and the bookseller). Also, net proceeds are after production costs, so any expenses on Springer's part are deducted before the 50-50 split. – Anonymous Mathematician Apr 16 '14 at 15:48
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    Net proceeds? Uh oh, don't count on getting rich off any deal based on net - as Bugs Bunny wisely advised us so many years ago. en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Hollywood_accounting – BrianH May 23 '14 at 13:09
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    @IvarPersson: the discount on Springer titles is available for all authors with Springer publications including journal papers, not only for book authors. (Source: I'm co-author of some papers in Springer journals, but neither of a book nor a book chapter, but get the author discount) – cbeleites Feb 19 '18 at 19:10
19

My answer is close to $0.00. I published a book with Springer in 2007, and it is a standard work found in most university libraries. I have never received a royalty cheque, as there was a threhshold number for sales. However, now sales are close to zero, as the book is available electronically via SpringerLink and other platforms, and Springer essentially does not pay royalties on downloads via SpringerLink, as they have no way of calculating the proportion owing - so they avoid the issue, and authors are totally shafted.

  • Was that threshold negotiable? – Massimo Ortolano Dec 24 '16 at 0:31
  • It probably was, but it was only 200 copies. I did not worry about it then. Most interestingly, eBooks then took over the market, notably via Soringer's eBook Packages. Book sales declined to near zero. Springer pays a royalty on Ebook Package revenue, but it is calculated as % of book sales. With higher Ebook Package sales, book sales become effectively nil, and thus total royalties are nil. Patrons at eBook subscribing libraries can also get a copy of the book (MyBook) from Springer for $25, and obviously no royalties are paid, and sales are lost. – Rick Willis Jan 13 '17 at 0:36
  • It may interest people that Springer revenue from eBook Packages is now in the hundreds of millions of euros, but authors see a tiny, tiny fraction of this. Springer refuses to release data about eBook Package sales, despite contracts stipulating a fair and equitable return from Ebook Package revenue. Authors have no way of knowing if royalties paid, if any, are fair. My eBook Package royalties to date will not buy a cup of coffee. Springer does say that they will royalties on MyBook sales, but that would like be less than $1.per copy – Rick Willis Jan 18 '17 at 0:07
  • On my Springer books, the statement I get shows sales both of physical copies and electronic copies (either the entire book, or individual chapters). Yes, I have received some money for electronic sales. – GEdgar Aug 21 '18 at 17:50
13

Here's what Springer says:

§ 6 Royalty

For each sold and paid copy of the Work or part thereof, print or electronic, sold as an individual book or individual part thereof, Springer shall pay to Author a royalty of 6% based on the net income received by Springer (list-price minus discount and VAT, withholding tax and any other applicable taxes). For the avoidance of doubt, this includes (but is not limited to) such individual sales to digital and non-digital libraries.

If there is a legal requirement for Springer to withhold any taxes on a royalty payment, the taxes will be deducted from the royalty payment to Author. If the Work is sold electronically as part of a Springer e-book package, Author will receive an equitable share of royalties from the income generated by Springer from the e-book package. The share formula for each individual title within the e-book package will be determined by Springer no later than April for the preceding calendar year. This amount will be paid in addition to the royalty described above and shown separately on the annual royalty statement.

In the case of Bulk Sales, Author's exclusive royalty for the respective Bulk Sale will be 0 % of the related Net Proceeds, with “Bulk Sale” being defined as the production and/or distribution of a special number of copies of the Work or parts thereof at a special price regardless of whether it be performed by Springer or by third parties, regardless of whether in print or electronic format and further regardless of whether in a layout identical to the normal normal edition or not. For the purpose of this Clause 6 Royalty, the term "Net Proceeds" shall be defined as the net amount Springer actually receives after deduction of all discounts, minus production costs incurred by Sprnger or any Springer Group Company and minus VAT, withholding tax and any other applicable taxes.

If Springer grants licenses to use the Work or derivative works thereof or parts of either in non-Springer products and the related use is not covered by the above subsections of this clause 6 “Royalty” (e.g., a license to translate the work and to distribute the translation, or a license to distribute parts of the Work in a third party book), Author’s exclusive royalty for the respective license and any related use will be a share of the Springer’s Net Proceeds according to industry standards (currently 50%).

The aforesaid royalties shall be the sole compensation to be paid to Author with respect to the Work and the rights granted. In case the Work contains or links (e.g. through frames or in-line links) to media, social or functional enhancements, the royalties, complimentary copies and/or access rights granted under this contract, are deemed to be adequate consideration. For the avoidance of doubt, the aforesaid royalties will be paid as a total to the joint group of authors if “Author” comprises several individual authors. Each co-author will receive an equal share of any payment.

Accounts will be settled annually in April for the preceding calendar year, with payment to follow soon thereafter.

Authors are responsible for the taxation of their royalties. Springer is entitled to report related information (including personal and financial data) to the respective authorities.

Free copies which are provided by Springer for the purposes of review, promotion, sample or otherwise free of charge are not subject to royalty payments. Likewise, copies that are damaged and cannot be sold are not subject to royalty payments.

Any publisher's proceeds from rights managed by national copyright organizations (collecting societies including but not limited to societies such as Copyright Clearance Center) are the sole property of Springer. Any such author’s proceeds are the sole property of Author, and if applicable, registration and taxation of such proceeds is the Author’s sole responsibility. This subsection shall have precedence over any other subsection of this Clause 6 Royalty.

7

I am a Springer author of a book in the Boston Studies in the History and Philosophy of Science series, and I made 6% off the gross sales.

6

If you live in Germany, don't forget to register with VG Wort when your book is published. They only pay out once a year, as does Springer. But I got more money from VG Wort than I did from Springer for my book published in 2014. As an answer above noted: you aren't going to get rich.

Also, do read the proofs very carefully. They seem to employ people who don't understand the manuscripts to do what little editing they do.

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    Your answer would be more complete, and understandable to everybody, if you could give a short description of what VG Wort is. – Massimo Ortolano Jul 5 '15 at 15:33
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    Their home page is vgwort.de/startseite.html (in German). In Germany one cent from every photocopy made and a certain amount for every storage medium is given to the VG Wort to be distributed amongst all of the authors who registered new works for the past year. They pay once a year. They also have an extremely complicated method for registering online articles. Once the articles have be read often enough (the amount changes every year) one can get a few euros for them. – Debora Weber-Wulff Jul 6 '15 at 18:53
  • When you publish a book you sign a contract. do you say that you can VG Wort will also publish your book. Could you please tell me what do you do and what do they do? My best guess is that you give your books soft copy to them and they make use of it somehow and pay you 1 cent per usage. Is it compatiable with the contract that you make with Springer? Because you are not allowed to give your book to third parties. – Seyhmus Güngören Aug 24 '16 at 20:43
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    VG Wort does not publish anything. They collect the "Copy cents" (Kopierpfennige) that one pays for every photocopy taken and the yearly fees paid by institutions and distribute that money among the registered authors. – Debora Weber-Wulff Aug 26 '16 at 10:33
3

How much do Springer-Verlag authors make per book sold?

I am getting roughly EUR 2 to 4 for each copy of my Springer book - eBook, softcover, and hardcover, respectively. That's 10% of net sales, and then 25% of that, since my co-author wrote 75% of the book. The annual royalty statements from Springer have been a nice surprise since they also include royalties for eBook packages that universities and other institutions purchase. Plus the book added almost EUR 500 to my VG Wort payout; too bad that's only in the year of publication! So, I am pretty happy with Springer, with the premise that I did not expect (and need) to make any money from this project - indeed the hourly pay is probably something like EUR 2. What may also be of interest to some is that the book is being cited at a rate of 25 to 50 times a year, which is significantly higher than any of my articles. It's a research monograph in a technical field.

3

Beware of publishing with Apress (Springer-Nature) on two issues:

  • Payments for SpringerLink downloads are not issued
  • Data for sales is not shared

I published 5 books through Apress. These books were earlier published on Amazon's KDP program a year before (2016 to 2017) they were republished by Apress (December 2017 onwards).

At Amazon's KDP program they were provided in self-published mode. There I use to get 70% for e-book and 50% for physical book. I could set my own price for different regions. Sales data is shown live too. I was making decent sales of ~10-50 USD per day.

Then Apress approached me to publish the books again (they used the term "adopting") and paid me 3000 USD for all 5 of them (1000 USD for book on Julia programming and 500 USD each for other four). This amount was suggested to be "bonus for signing in" and was in addition to 10% of sales as royalty payments for first 4000 copies, 12.5% for next 4000 copies, 15% for next 4000 copies and 20% henceforth.

But there was a catch. Within the contract, the bonus payments (3000USD) were added for Subscription services like SpringerLink too. Being first-time author dealing with publishers, I was too naive to understand the consequences.

The payments are made on quarterly basis. Payments of one quarter are made at the end of next quarter. My books got published in December 2017. For fourth quarter of 2017, I got payments of ~180 USD which was decent sale of books considering just a month worth of sales. But second payment of Quarter-1 of 2018 which was released in July 2018 was just ~250 USD. This was surprising since the books were decently ranked in Amazon sales data all through the time and Julia book was quite popular. When I asked for sales data based on which royalty statements were issues, the e-mails are simply not relied to. Also at this point of time I realised the issued with subscription based downloads at SpringerLInk where the books got downloaded well over 25000 times within those 3 months of 2018, but I wasn't paid a single dime.

Hence my advice to new authors:

  • Of course you should not be naive as myself while reading the contract. Even better if you ask a legal expert to do the same.
  • Ask for payments for subscription based services too. The downloads run in thousands there whereas sales might be less than hundred (if you believe royalty statements!)
  • To avoid the hassles, go for one-time payments either for life or 5 year basis (royalty paid every 5 years). A decent book priced 20 USD should easily fetch yourself at-least 20,000 USD by the time its obsolete. Of course the estimates varies on type of books and subjects.

I have a request from readers. If somebody can guide me to take an appropriate legal action on Springer for with-holding sales data, I will be very grateful. I am an Indian citizen living in India at present. I can be reached at sandeep.nagar@gmail.com

1

With Springer, the royalties accounting report does consider only book sales for individuals while excluding institutional and group sales which constitute the majority of revenues.  For highly specialized expensive books whose price exceeds the capability of individuals, sales are considerably low while institutional and group sales are high. 

Even when the detailed chapter by chapter downloads for books on Springer site are high, they are excluded from the royalties accounting report. The authorship rights are thus subdivided into full rights against the minority of individual readers, and zero rights against the majority of institutional and group readers. Highly unfair to totally exclude the author from institutional and group online downloads and hardcopies.

Totally upsetting and frustrating experience for the authors, specially when emails are not answered!!

protected by Alexandros Aug 21 '18 at 18:18

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