Here's a follow-up article in the Wall Street Journal that actually has...hold your hats...reasonable and accurate background information on e-publishing. Wow.
Among the inconvenient facts that will never, ever make it into the New York Times:
For now, the settlement will force the three settling publishers to rewrite their pricing agreements with retailers, allowing retailers more flexibility to discount. Publishers could stick with the existing agency model, since they won't be able to control retailer discounting, but one executive predicted the most likely outcome is a return to the "wholesale" model, which is more lucrative for publishers than the current e-book pricing model.
Near term, stronger e-book sales would be good for publishers. E-books are cheaper to produce—lacking costly printing and binding—and are more efficient to distribute, since unsold books don't need to be returned to publishers. That has boosted publishers' profits in the past year or so even as revenues have eroded from falling sales of pricier hardcover books.
Random House, for instance, reported that earnings before interest and taxes jumped 6.9%in 2011 despite a 4.3% revenue drop. Simon & Schuster's adjusted Ebitda rose 40% to $28 million in the fourth quarter from a year-earlier even as revenue fell 1%.
But to throw a little humor in, they quote everybody's favorite clown, Scott Turow, as saying, "Money to be made in book publishing is going to decline, and therefore the money to be made by authors is going to decline."
Because 70% of $10,000 is way less than 10% of $50,000. This lesson in arithmetic comes courtesy of the president of the Authors-Are-The-Same-As-Publishers Guild. (Motto: Math is hard! Let's go shopping!)