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A blog wherein a literary agent will sometimes discuss his business, sometimes discuss the movies he sees, the tennis he watches, or the world around him. In which he will often wish he could say more, but will be obliged by business necessity and basic politeness and simple civility to hold his tongue. Rankings are done on a scale of one to five Slithy Toads, where a 0 is a complete waste of time, a 2 is a completely innocuous way to spend your time, and a 4 is intended as a geas compelling you to make the time.

Sunday, February 26, 2012

Oscars 2012

11:47 PM Maybe a recap post to come, but for now, the live blog is shutting down. See you at the movies.

11:43 PM No real surprise in the Best Picture category. I wasn't a fan of The Artist, but I do want to give some respect out to Harvey Weinstein. A kind of kindred soul in this way. I have an eye for spotting talent for writing good books, and I'm always willing to stick in my two cents on how to make the good books better and hopefully into great. And that's Harvey. He knows how to find movies that can participate in the Oscar parade. His reputation as Harvey Scissorhands is not undeserved, I think here he may be a little more forceful and a little better able to have his way, in part because he actually cuts the checks while I can only promise a good effort to get people to cut them. And when it comes to Oscar campaigning, he knows what he's doing. He's got the kind of Oscar marketing machine that I try in a smaller way to apply to the foreign marketing for the JABberwocky list. He saw The Artist. He sensed it. He even sensed that he could keep his Scissorhands off of it. And he got it. Deserved? Didn't deserve? You know, I have to respect that he can go out and make these things happen.

11:40 PM My disappointment in the Best Actor category is balanced by the pleasant surprise of Meryl Streep winning for Best Actress. Woo hoo! I can't say enough how good her performance was in The Iron Lady. And what a wonderful speech, that one if you are watching at home or in the audience, please try. Real seeming emotion, thanks limited to just a few special people instead of a long laundry list. Joy, graciousness, modesty, all in one. Well, that was just a happy-making victory.

11:21 PM Overall the show is reminding me of watching a movie on commercial TV, where they have a good 15 or 20 minutes without commercials at the beginning so you get into it, and then as you get along you've got commercials for 4 mnutes out of every 12 and it's baffling why anyone actually watches the move. The commercial load the first hour wasn't bad, but for the past 45 minutes it's been one block, whether it's the actor award or the memorial, followed by multiple minutes of commercials. Explains why I shoudln't have worried the show would run short when we had just a few awards left to present a half hour ago. The Penneys commercials are excellent, though I thought maybe that last one was for Miracle Whip. Diet Coke also re-ran a commercial joining Sprint in that ignominy, but at least it's a really good fresh ad seen tonight for the first time.

11:18 PM I am not happy with Jeana Dujardin winning Best Actor for The Artist. There are only four other performances I think I liked more in this category. Even Gary Oldman in Tinker Tailor Soldier Spy. I wasn't a big fan of the movie, but what a performance. Well, it was a nice acceptance speech at least, but I really really really would have liked seeing George Clooney coming out with this one. Humbug.

10:58 PM Couldn't they have cut to the commercial break giving more of a glimpse of the honorary Oscar recipients in their box, instead of yet another view of the musicians playing in the other boxes, which we've seen only 12 times already over the course of the evening?

10;55 PM Best DIrector goes to Michel Hazanavicius for The Artist. No surprise, but very disappointing to me. Perhaps the only thing more disappointing than seeing a repeat of the same Sprint ad from earlier during the preceding commercial break. If they were going to run a Sprint ad twice, it should have been the one that was filmed near JABberwocky Central, with the CEO at Gantry State Park on the Long Island City waterfront just a couple miles away.

10:30 PM Happily the Original Screenplay award did NOT go to The Artist. I liked Midnight in Paris, happy here.

10:28 PM And the winners for Adapted Screenplay do thank the author of the book on which the screenplay was based. Very important!!!

10:27 PM. Since I liked The Descendants very much, my pick for Best Picture, having it take home at least the one Oscar makes me happy.

10:23 PM The chocolate chip bar from Buttercup was OK, my next dessert course is a cream cheese brownie from Crumbs. Another good Penney's ad, interesting Tide ad, better AT&T ad than what Sprint is showing.

10:19 PM Very glad to see Man or Muppet win over its one competitor for Best Song. If you watch the old Muppet Show, you'll see how important music was to the show, having fun with music, doing unexpected things with music. "A true honor to work in the shadow of such legends" does about sum up how one should feel about writing music for the Muppets, and last year's addition to the Muppet cannon did a good job of living up to that legacy. A pleasing win.

10:12 PM Original score is a really strong category. The Artist had a score that was absolutely integral to it, as did Hugo. The music for War Horse plays and I see War Horse. It's even hard to argue the excellent score for Extremely Loud and Incredibly Close was overlooked, because I don't know which of the nominees I'd boot in favor of it. No real surprise, and really hard to object, to having it to go The Artist.

10:04 PM for those watching at a home Christopher Plummer game a wonderful acceptance speech, but this was by a professional driver on a closed course, do not attempt because the music will cut you off, and then your microphone will cut out. The last time I watched a chunk of The Sound of Music a couple years ago, it amazed me to see how youthful Christopher Plummer looked, it shouldn't, it was 45 or 50 years ago, but still. He probably looks better at 82 than I do a bit shy of 50 still, which gives me something to look forward to. I still don't like the movie, but this is one of those career achievement awards you just can't argue with. My pick for Plummer, go and take a look at his performance as a customs agent in Atom Egoyan's film Ararat.

10:00 PM Kenneth Branaagh -- is he a vision of Jeremy Renner in 25 years? There's an uncanniy resemblance to me.

9:56 PM. 5 wins for Hugo. I would have loved seeing Harry Potter or Rise of the Planet of the Apes winning for visual effects.

9:55 PM racing through the show so they have time for the Ben Stiller - Emma Stone train wreck.

9:45 PM Kind of a dull show, the acceptance speech in the documentary cataegory is actually lively, so they bleep some and cut it off.

9:34 PM Diet Coke ad was good, Sprint ad is another same old same old that isn't impressing me, if you're going to come to the Oscars you really should put on a new outfit.

9:28 PM And with another win for Sound Effects I think we can safely give Hugo the crown for most, if not the most important.

9:26 PM Sound editing to Hugo, its 3rd win, it may end the evening at least tied for the most Oscars.

9:25 PM Today's paper has a coupon for Doritos, maybe I will buy some!

9:24 PM Even more baffling, how can it win?

9:22 PM, how can the overlong Dragon Tattoo have a nomination for film editing?

9:17 PM I thought the Miracle Whip ad was another JC Penney ad. Not a fan of The Help, hard not to like the outpouring of affection for Octavia Spencer's win for supporting actresss.

9:08 PM Footnote is the only nominee for Foreign Language Film that I've seen. I might want to see Bullhead. No interest at all in the winner, A Separation.

8:59 PM And Iron Lady wins. Excellent!

8:58 PM I would go with Iron Lady for makeup.

8:55 PM I only saw two of the Costume nominees, so it can't bd a surprise that it goes to a film, The Artist, that was actually seen and is in the award mix overall. I wish I'd seen Anonymouse.

8:53 PM This opening film montage -- pointless. Gave me a chance to crack open a Mike's Hard Lemonade and get the Buttercup Bakery chocolate chip bar out of its bag. I'm hungry!

8:50 PM After the great JC Penney ad, disappointing to see Spring with the same unlimited data for iPhone ad that I've seen 142 times before.

8:49 PM For as long as I can remember, the first award out the door was one of the Supporting Acting awards, I don't know how to deal with this thing with giving out two technical awards first.

8:48 PM The JC Penney add about coupons was funnier than the Billy Crystal opening.

8:46 PM With these first two technical awards going to Hugo, it's clear that there isn't gong to be some big sweep for The Artist even if it wins for Best Picture. I don't think these two wins are a harbinger of a surprise sweep for Hugo. I might have opted for Midnight in Paris in this category.

8:44 PM Of the films nominated for cinematography, I think War Horse had the photography I enjoyed most. I can't complain too much on having Robert RIchardson win, he's done a lot of good word and I think first and foremost of Born on the 4th of July, one of multiple films he did for Oliver Stone.

8:40 PM The Chapter 11 Theatre. Used to the Kodak Theatre, maybe even still is, but Kodak is in bankruptcy and got the OK to back out of its naming deal for the venue.

8:40 PM The opening montage was more of a chuckle than a belly laugh, but OK, it'll do kid, it'll do.

8:30 PM Best Original Screenplay is a tough category. There are three films here that I'd love to see winning, Bridesmaids, Margin Call and Midnight in Paris. I'll give some blog space to Margin Call,which is one of the movies from 2012 that I wish I'd found time to see twice. It has moments that I'm still seeing seveal months later, the really bland office space for the finanicial firm doesn't seem so bland in my mind's eye. There's Jeremy Irons chewing this boring scenery at the crucial board meeting that will decide the fate of his financial firm, Zachary Quinto staring at a computer screen. Debra Winger and Stanley Tucci being paid to sit in a room. These are moments that usually don't stock out because there's so bland, but somehow this movie takes the workaday life of high finance and makes it crackle. Excellent script and acted with passion all the way around.

8:25 PM The Supporting Actor category... well, it's hard to believe Christopher Plummer has never won an Oscar for all the excellent performances he's done over the years, I don't like that he's going to win it for a performance that's so brilliant in its subtely it didn't make much of aa impression on me at all in a film that made a rather negative impression on me, like I wish I hadn't forked over a Very Important Neighbor ticket to see it at the Clearview Chelsea. I might vote for Jonah Hill in this category. But Nick Nolte's nomination is a good occasion to talk belatedly in praise of Warrior. I wish I had more time to review movies on my blog because I feel guilty about not having given some warm words of praise to this movie when it came out. As to Nolte himself, his performance is a lot of old saws knit together, a modern update of Burgess Meredith's trainer character in Rocky, one might say. But it's an awfully good piece of work nonetheless. The movie is one of the best sports movies I've ever seen, a little surprisingly because it's about a sport, mixed martial arts, that doesn't particularly interest me. But it is the first film of it's the where I've ever gotten to the final bout and not really known which character I was supposed to root for. That never happens in sports movies, but this script is a gem and pulls it off. Doesn't hurt that Tom Hardy and Joel Edgerton are also giving quite excellent performances, too bad my good memories of Tom Hardy's have been washed away by the recent drek known as This Means War. But trust me on this, consider putting Warrior on your Netflix queue.

8:23 PM LIked the backstage look at the winner's walk.

8:16 PM A quick shout out in Best Actor to Demian Bichir. Not too many people saw A Better Life. It's kind of depressing in the end. But it's excellent filmmaking, really absorbing, and Bichir's performance is an important part of that. One of those occasions when just getting the nomination is a win in and of itself.

8:07 PM Best actress is a category worht talking about ahead of time. The general consensus is that Viola Davis will win for The Help. I don't mind Viola, you can go see an incredible performance from her in the film version of Doubt, as one example. But for Meryl Streep not to win this year would be a darned shame. When I was young and Meryl was in movies like Sophie's Choice or Out of Africa, I didn't truck much with her, all of that "just doing accents" stuff. As I've aged, I've grown to appreciate her work more and more in the richness of variety and the invisibility of her technique. The Devil Wore Prada and Being Julia Child. I think her performance in The Iron Lady might be her very best performance ever. She is the movie, and you don't see her. You see Margaret Thatcher all the way. It isn't an actress wearing a nose, but an actress totally immersed in every aspect of the subject. The movie isn't great, I liked the first half quite a bit but thought it faltered in the later going as it had to deal with the Falklands in ten minutes and then the union strikes in ten minutes without very much to say about any of these things. But what a performance it is. Just incredible. She has my Oscar vote, but mine doesn't count. I didn't see Albert Nobbs, doubt I will. Michelle Williams was quite good in My Week with Marilyn. Don't get me started on Dragon Tattoo, nothing against Rooney Mara but the movie paled next to the original Swedish version. You can't take good pulp material like this and drown it in so much Hollywood acting and Hollywood production value and languor. Meryl is the best!

8:03 PM, settling in for the evening's excitement!

The Pre Oscar -- Best Picture

I don't know how Bryce Moore manages with two kids to find time for more movie reviews than I do, but it's time to at least say something in preparation for Sunday's Oscar ceremony!

We have nine Best Picture nominees, I've seen all of them to some extent or another.

Let's say I won't be rooting for Hugo.  I started to feel weary within ten or fifteen minutes of the film starting.  I eventually woke up, decided sleeping was to be preferred, and ended up walking out.  During the brief moments that I was awake, I could see that the movie was brilliantly made from a production design standpoint or a music standpoint or in any and many fashions you could say.  But the story was just boring, I didn't care about the kid, I didn't want to see a peon to motion picture history or preservation.

I also left The Help.  I hadn't read the book, I read the first page or so and recoiled at the very thought of it.  Trying to watch the movie cold reminded me of what it must have been like to try and watch Sorceror's Stone without having started in on the Harry Potter series.  It was dramatically inert, I didn't care about the main character or any character just from what was on the screen.  The buzz is that this will mean I will not properly appreciate the virtues of the actresses most likely to win in both leading and supporting characters.  Pardon the pun, but there's no Help for for that.

I did kind of like Extremely Loud and Incredibly Close.  I thought it rang true in a lot of important ways, in the relationship between the mother and child, in the child's reaction to what happened on 9/11.   It's not "real" after that, it's a movie.  But I was bothered a lot more by the unreality of having World War I stop for ten minutes so a British and German soldier could take care of War Horse than I was by anything in Extremely Loud.  If the Best Picture race were between the two of these pictures, I'd put the horse out to some incredibly close pasture and be done with it.  Not that War Horse doesn't have some virtues as well, but its mawkishness and manipulativeness was far more apparent in my eyes.

I don't know what to say about Tree of Life.  I saw it.  I stayed awake, pretty much.  But it's not a movie.  It's a tone poem or an elegy or something but it isn't a movie.  I'm sure whatever it is, it's a very good example of whatever.  But I like to see a movie when I go to the movies.

Of the above films, Extremely Loud and War Horse are the only ones that I was in any rush to see.  I only went to The Help at all because it was a free screening months after it opened, I waited weeks to see Tree of Life.  Hugo was part of a double feature with the rather disappointing Young Adult.  By and large, I was right to have been disinterested.

Similarly, I saw The Artist pretty much only because I had an opportunity to see it as part of a last minute add on to the Variety Screening Series.  And this was entirely disposable and missable as well.  It's not a bad movie.  But it's such a trifle that I don't entirely see the point of it.  The most interesting part of it to me was correctly noticing that part of it was filmed in the Bradbury Building, which might be best known for being used in Blade Runner.  The ornate staircase looked a lot different here, but it's one distinct piece of staircase.  It pains me to think that this amusing little trifle is thought to be the leading contender for Best Picture.  Really?

Extremely Loud might be preposterous in some ways in some eyes, but I at least see it as a legitimate attempt to go near the events of 9/11, and where it approaches them most directly to do so in real vibrant ways that speak -- accurately in the eyes of someone in NYC on the day -- to some of the actual emotion of the events.  

If I'm not rooting for The Artist...

well, I'm not rooting for Moneyball.  Brad Pitt is awfully good in the movie, Jonah Hill is awfully good in the movie, there are some good performances lurking elsewhere, like Philip Seymour Hoffman as the Oaklands As manager Art Howe.  The last third or maybe last half of the move was actually pretty darned good.  The problem here is just that the first chunk of the movie isn't really that good.  It's too slow to get going.  Not rooting for it, but of the nine nominees this is in the half that I at least don't mind seeing in the running.

Midnight in Paris, this is a great movie, but like The Artist I think it's a little too trifling for me to really want to pull for it in the Best Picture category.  Still, it's an awfully good movie, Woody Allen's best movie in perhaps 20 years, his first really good one maybe since Crimes and Misdemeanors.  If you haven't fallen in love with the idea of Paris before, it's hard not after the opening montage of the city photographed with its best side in every frame, in every shot, in every glimmer of light.  The script is tight, witty, the contemporary relationships feel real, and I'm willing then to consider that the historical parts of it are as real as the contemporary.  Whether they are or not, I don't know, but I'm willing to go along for the ride.  It's hard in some ways to say why this movie charmed me so thoroughly where The Artist does not.  Maybe it's because The Artist competes with my memories of Mel Brooks' Silent Movie?  Maybe it's because there's some edge and ambivalence to the relationships in Midnight in Paris, while there's never any real doubt what will happen in The Artist, if you've seen a lot of movies The Artist has one of those scripts that you can write from memory of other films.  I certainly couldn't fill in the blanks from my own experience on the literary experiences of Paris through the ages.

Ultimately, and rather surprisingly in light of my past experience with the director, my hands down favorite pick for Best Picture from the films that were nominated is The Descendants.  I don't think I've ever liked an Alexander Payne film quite as much as his most fervent admirers. Sideways was experienced by me in the same way as Hugo, a film better suited for napping than for viewing.  Election wasn't bad, but I'd call it Enhlenhectenh because it's kind of enh and not really great.  And somehow or other, this director I've never really warmed to managed to come up with a brilliant picture.  He's helped tons by George Clooney.  Clooney has been so good if not better in so many movies, but he gives his best performance yet in this picture.  It's quiet, subtle, yet incredibly forceful.  There's no sign of star power or glamor when he's trying to deal with the daughters he doesn't really know.  It might be the only movie set in Hawaii that makes me want to visit, because it doesn't just stay on the touristy beaches.  It reveals the islands as actual places where real people eat, meet, work.  Shows me a place I could actually walk around in and visit and experience in ways beyond worrying about whether I'd gotten all the right spots with my sunscreen. The script presents characters that movie experience tells us are to be experienced in particular ways, and then if gives us an entirely different experience, often in subtle, well-crafted scenes that put the craft and unique experience of cinema to use.  There's the confrontation scene between George Clooney and Matthew Lillard, the gangly guy from the Scream movies, who's something entirely different here.  Grown into almost middle age in his face but not quite in his life experiences, holding his own with George Clooney at his best.  There are a lot of great scenes in this movie, but to me the one that still holds in my mind's eye a few months after seeing the movie is toward the end.  Clooney's in-law has come to say goodbye to his dying daughter.  The hospital scene is rife with tension between the two, the son-in-law who's never been good enough for the daughter, the son-in-law who knows he's never been good enough in his father-in-law's eyes.  Experience suggests that we go either into some kind of full throttle final argument or to some wonderful scene of last-minute reconciliation.  We get neither.  Clooney and the camera quietly leave the hospital room with nothing fully resolved, and we peek in at the father and we peek in on Clooney's face.  There's no resolution at all to the relationship between the characters, but we see that everything the father's ever said has been said out of real love and care for his daughter, who means more than anything to him, that it might be misguided but never out of malice and spite.  And we see in Clooney's face that he might never have enjoyed his father-in-law, but that he'd managed to come to grips over time with his place in the relationship.  There's no love, there's no hate, there's a lesson passed along to Clooney's daughter and to us, quietly, gently, but with clarity, it's somehow the quiet ringing of a loud clarion call.

If I could swap out some of the movies I liked less for others I liked more...

Bridesmaids.  Comedy done right, uproariously side-splittingly funny.  This isn't easy to do.  

Mission Impossible: Ghost Protocol.  About as good a popcorn movie as you can put together.  Director Brad Bird, known for animated movies such as Iron Giant and The Incredibles, manages to do live action action with the fluidity of animation, and does it without giving the film the CGI anything goes look and feel that makes some of today's films look artificial.  

Margin Call.  It has a nomination in the screenplay category, deservedly.  I'd settle for that if it weren't that there are so many appreciably worse movies in the 9 contending for Best Picture that this one should be in the mix for the main prize.

Friday, February 10, 2012

Do The Math

So what do e-books mean for John Taylor and his bride, Suzie?

Penguin is selling an e-book of The Bride Wore Black Leather for $12.99, and the hardcover cover price is $25.95. These prices are not unusual.

The typical royalty rate from a major publisher on an e-book is 25% of net receipts, and the typical publisher share of the e-book price is 70%. So 70% of $12.99 means around $9 going to the publisher, and around $2.25 going to the author.

The typical author royalty rate for a hardcover with a big publisher is between 10 and 15%, we take the middle tier on that at 12.5%, and the author gets around $3.25.

Hence, every time somebody trades from buying a hardcover of Bride Wore Black Leather to buying an e-book, the income to Simon Green drops from $3.25 to $2.25.

This isn't good news, if you are Simon Green!


For A Hard Day's Knight, now in mass market, both the e-book and the paperback are $7.99.

Let's do some more more math.

Typical royalty of 8% on the paperback, around $.64 on each paperback sale.

Same math formula for the e-book, list price x .7 to the publisher x .25 to the author. That's $1.40.

Every time an e-book is sold instead of a mass market, the author gains $.75.

I'm using the Nightside books as the example here, but the math would be similar for pretty much any set of hardback and paperback books coming from every major publisher. For a very successful author, the hardcover math is much worse, you're probably trading down from a 15% royalty and a higher hardcover cover price, and losing closer to $2 every time out. And gaining less on mass market sales, where many top bestselling authors might get a higher royalty rate. For a less successful author, the hardcover royalty might be only 10%, and the loss on the e-book trade is reduced. But maybe you're getting only a 6% royalty on your paperback, so your gain as readers trade from e-book to paperback may be even bigger.

Interestingly enough, then, at current industry standard royalty rates, the less successful authors might be better off -- way better off, even, than the most successful authors. You can't say for sure, that's for sure, you have to start doing fancy calculations at all different kinds of permutations of trade-offs to figure out 100% for sure if a given author is better off or worse off, but the math certainly shows that an author with huge hardcover sales to be turned into e-book sales has a lot more lost royalty potential than the author who's being published only in mass market.


From the publisher standpoint...

You take a $26 hardcover, the publisher may get around $12.50 in revenue back from that. Has to pay the author $3.25, and the gross revenue after royalty expense is $9.25. For the e-book the gross revenue is $12.99 x .7 x .75, or around $6.80 if the e-book is priced at $12.99, $5.25 if the e-book is priced at $9.99. The publisher's gross revenue after royalty expense is clearly way less -- way way way way less -- for the e-book.

Hmmm, we're all sitting around thinking that the publisher is getting rich off of e-books.

That said, we must keep in mind that the hardcover book has more hard cash expenses to it. The unit cost might be $2. I'm going to assume that two-thirds of the books that are printed actually end up selling. So that's $18.50 in revenue after royalty expense for two books, less maybe $6 for the actual physical manufacturing costs of three books, less a little bit more for the freight and the warehouse expenses and other hard costs of a physical book. So that ends up being maybe $6 per book. So for a $12.99 e-book, it's kind of looking like the e-book is $12.99 instead of $9.99 for a reason, the $11.99-12.99 price point is about where the publisher can make as much money per book as on the hardcover, before all the overhead and other costs associated with the book itself -- the cover artist, the copy-editor, the office rent, the salaries for the editors and everyone else hanging around the office. At $9.99, the publisher is taking a real revenue hit from people buying e-books instead of hardcovers, even after taking account of the hard cash expenses that go along with the physical book, but not the e-book.

Bottom line here, on hardcover books, the move to e-books isn't helping publishers very much, if at all.

But on mass markets, the publisher may get $3.50 on a $7.99 paperback, have a royalty expense of $.65, and hard cash expenses for the physical book of $.80 or $1. Let's again assume three books printed for every two sold, that's $7.20 in revenue for selling two books less $1.30 royalty expense less, let's say, $2.70 in hard cash costs. That's around $1.60 per book before overhead. For the e-book at $7.99, it's $7.99 x .7 x .75 = $4.20 !!!

So unless my math is wrong, publishers are doing rather nicely when people trade from mass market to e-book sales, and the author is doing a little bit better off but nowhere near as better off here as the publisher is doing.

Again, there are myriad other factors that can go into this, this is just rough sketching, the unit costs for a mass market book from a 100,000 copy first printing will be vastly less than for a mass market with a 15,000 copy first printing, and that all by itself can make this math look a lot different from book to book.

To be honest, I'm so astonished at how much the math favors the publishers on trading from mass market to e-book that I'm thinking I've got to be getting something entirely wrong, the publishers can't really be doing that well on the mass market, can they?

Now, if you are an author with a track record, the most important lesson in all of this is that you can't determine the appropriate advance for your book by looking at your royalty statement. You might be losing royalties big time on your hardcover sales, but the publisher isn't losing per-unit profit the same way you're losing royalties. You might be gaining royalties on the paperback vs e-book side, but the publisher is probably gaining even more.

So it's like the title of this post says -- Do The Math. You or your agent need to try and grope your way toward looking at the P&L (profit and loss) statement for your book, not the royalty statement. Your numbers for that will never be like the publisher's, because all the publishers have different ways of allocating overhead and other unique factors they won't share with you, but you can rough something out by looking at your previous royalty statements and looking not at royalties earned but at copies shipped vs. sold and e-book copies sold and the expenses that go along with each.

The second thing to ponder here ... what do these numbers suggest regarding the legitimacy of 25% of net proceeds as an appropriate industry standard royalty rate for e-book sales.

Hard to say. If the publisher's trading more hardcover sales for e-book, then 25% of net seems to be kind of the right rate for keeping publisher unit profit at about the same level regardless of format. But 25% of net doesn't seem right when the publisher is trading more mass market sales. The other factor here, authors can easily self publish and get the full 70% of e-book cover price for themselves. Publishers have to justify what they're doing to be keeping three e-book dollars for every one that goes to the author when the authors can easily keep all of them. Because of that, and because of the revenue potential trading from mass market to e-book, I think the 25% has to move up some. Some.

Final quick thing, let's look at a trade paperback. $15-16 paperback, $12.99 e-book. So again $6.80 in gross revenue to the publisher on the e-book, after royalties. On the print side, two books bring in $14.50 or $15 in revenue, less $4.00 for hard physical costs for three books, less $2.40 royalties. That's $4 in gross revenue. Here, it looks like there's more revenue for both the author and the publisher, more equitably split between the two than on the mass market.