There is an old business saying: follow the money to see the true story. If we follow the money in publishing, from the perspective of authors, what story does it tell us?
This is the typical money trail in trade publishing:
Reader pays bookstore
Bookstore pays wholesaler
Wholesaler pays distributor (sometimes wholesaler and distributor are one)
Distributor pays publisher
Publisher pays agent
Agent pays author many months after the sale (who, by the time everyone has had their cut, receives less than 10% of book retail price).
This business model of selling print books through bookstores is not commercially viable for most indie authors. Economies of scale means that few of us can compete with trade publishing in the print-book-to-bookstore model. And the economics of physical bookstore distribution, given the discounts retailers, wholesalers and distributors need to make their profits, are punishing, even for big publishers.
. . . .
In self-publishing the most common money chain looks like this:
Reader pays online bookstore (the author’s website or a retailer such as Amazon, Apple, Google, Kobo etc).
Author gets paid immediately on own website (full cost of book, minus publishing expenses); or 90 days after transaction (up to 70% of book retail price) through the retailer or one of the aggregators who distribute to them (who will also take a cut).
And these online stores, with their global readership, 24/7, give far more access to readers than any physical store can provide.
Link to the rest at ALLi.