link of the weekOn October 2nd, HarperCollins (HC) announced the launch of a new e-commerce program that encourages direct sales through their new website, which was announced this past July.

harpercollins logoAimed toward HC authors, this new program is offering an additional 10% increase on net royalty rates on print, ebook, or audio products that are sold through the website. The press release suggested participation options such as buyer buttons or imbedded shopping carts for author websites and social media accounts, which indicates a move to harness the active social media presence of authors and a concentrated effort to bring more traffic to their new website.

Is HC’s new program a pre-emptive move, especially in light of the current Amazon/Hachette dispute? Brian Murray, president and CEO of HarperCollins Publishers emphasizes the publisher’s commitment to its authors.

While our first priority is to sell books through as many different retail channels as possible, we are pleased to provide this platform for our authors who want to sell directly. Our authors can also be certain that their books will always be available to consumers through HarperCollins, even if they are difficult to find or experiencing shipping delays elsewhere. Since we view this program as both a service to our authors and a partnership with them, those who participate will receive additional earnings.

Mick Rooney, publishing consultant and editor of the Independent Publishing Magazine, sums up the news of this new program well:

I’m sure there are many HarperCollins authors updating buy links on their websites. And why not? The authors are in a committed contract and it’s an opportunity to increase their royalty income by a small amount. I bet many of those buy links also originally linked to retailers like Amazon, Barnes & Noble and other online retailers. But in a year when there has been much talk about the rights and wrongs of using authors as leverage by all sides in commercial publishing disputes—is this just another pre-emptive example of this?
Let’s hope not and that HarperCollins are dealing with the question of direct sales in a proactive and innovative way and not simply as a method of reaction and defence.
What do you think about this move by HarperCollins? Proactive or reactive? Is the increase really going to help HC authors? Let us know what you think in the comments!