And now today, there's an email from RedRoom CEO Ivory Madison:
Dear Sarah,I may have the best news for traditionally published authors ever. In addition to what your publisher pays you, Red Room now pays you more than your publisherdoes on your existing books, and we'll introduce you to the people buying them. This is going to change everything.
Reading onward, it seems that RedRoom has begun an affiliate program paying out 15%. There are two catches. The first (and most obvious) is the $250 start-up fee. The second is less obvious. Sure, affiliate programs from the other book retailers pay much less (often 4% to 6%). But remember, when someone clicks through your affiliate links, you will often receive that rate whether they purchase your book or something else. (I have, for example, received affiliate payouts on Twilight CDs and a high chair, as well as on my book.) The RedRoom program is author-specific, which means the author gets paid on only his/her own book.
There is, however, one fascinating perk. RedRoom is offering to tell authors who bought their materials! From their info page:
We notify you every time someone purchases your book. You create a custom thank you note that is automatically sent to your book buyers. These new contacts are added to your list of Connections on Red Room under a special “Customers” category so you can contact them in the future. The result is a database of your book buyers—something only retailers usually have access to.
Now that is interesting, and arguably valuable. When I attended the BlogHer Writers Conference last week, I was struck by the contrast between the data that bloggers have versus the paltry data available to traditionally published authors. I'm all for better data, but for now I'm skeptical that a $250 outlay will soon result in a profitable investment. Will readers, with their myriad of choices, shop at RedRoom? The site does not exactly have an early mover advantage in book retailing. And shipping was quoted on the site at $4.50 for one book, on top of the full cover price, for an all-in cost which is higher than many online retailers, both Indy and chain.
But I have to give RedRoom some style points for this one. Will GoodReads follow suit? You can read all about it here: http://redroom.com/how-it-works.