Can you afford a coffee from one Kindle ebook sale?
The comparison between the price of an ebook and a cup of coffee has been made many times since Kindle ebooks, in particular, became part of reading culture.
For self-published authors, however, this price equation works fine in you happen to live in the US, but for those authors who live elsewhere, the equation can vary greatly.
The problem for non-US authors is that book royalties are in the main paid in $US, but when $US are exchanged into their local currency, the value of their earnings can diminish greatly,
Of course, on the other hand, depending on where an author lives, the value can be greater.
A simple way to illustrate a few examples of the variation in real author earnings is to use the Starbucks chart below, which gives the price of a cup of coffee in various cities around the world in $US.
So, if we say for example that the selling price of an ebook is $3.99, this equates quite well to the price of a coffee in New York or Detroit.
However, where I live in Switzerland, I need to sell nearly two ebooks at $3.99 to buy my cup of Starbucks coffee in Zurich at $7.12.
Luckily though, I don’t live in Oslo, where I would need to sell 3 ebooks to afford a cup of coffee at $9.93. In New Delhi though, an author would be well ahead of the game with a coffee costing only $2.80.
There is also another consideration. If a non-US author is not registered with the IRS, they lose 30% of their ebook earnings in withholding tax, which is going to make their cup of coffee very expensive indeed.
This would make an Oslo coffee worth four ebooks. Ouch! So no, you can’t get a coffee for an ebook in many parts of the world.
A tax tip for non-US authors.
For those self-published authors living outside the US, who may be paying withholding tax, there is a relatively easy way to register with the IRS and save yourself 30% on your cup of coffee.
Read this post by Merita King to get your IRS EIN number and make your coffees a lot cheaper.