"Sure, I'll sell you the print rights for that advance. But I'm keeping the digital rights."
This drives me CRAZY! There is no publisher in existence that is going to let ANYONE sign just for print rights and let them keep the ebook rights. It's insane to even think so. Now there may be some small publishers that are willing to do so - and on the surface of things I would say - great go for it - but to be honest any small pub who is that out of touch with publishing to allow such a thing is probably not a good horse to be jumping on in the first place.
Recently after one of these poses, I responded that ebook rights are not negotiable the original poster came back with "anything is negotiable". While I guess that is "technically true" - that you can "ask" for anything in a contract, the fact remains you'll get no traction on this. Period.
The industry standard is 25% of net for ebook royalties - this is substantially higher than most other royalties (6% - 15%) but it does leave an unequal distribution between author and publisher. Let's look at kindle as an example as it is the top selling platform for ebooks.
When priced between $2.99 and $9.99 Amazon will take 30% and the remaining 70% is "net". Since the author gets 25% of that they are actually receiving 17.5% of sales price. That's not bad, but considering the publisher is getting 52.5% for a product that has only incremental costs over the print book they've already produced this seems unfair. This is further complicated by the fact that, at present, a traditional publisher's ebook has no greater advantage (from a distribution standpoint) from the same book produced as an independent. In other words, the concept of coop space does not currently exist in online purchasing - a fact I suspect will change in the not so distant future.
Personally, I think this standard will start to crumble. Mainly because more and more authors will walk away even when the advance is large, because they can make more money getting the whole 70% instead of 17.5%. Publishers will realize that they HAVE to change the %'s in order to have any authors willing to sign. So in the future I think the roles will reverse with 30% going to the publisher and 70% staying with the author.
If I were negotiating a contract, which I am, I would work to get the language to say that the % needs to be evaluated every year and adjusted to the industry standard. That seems at least "possible." This solution is not ideal by any stretch of the imagination. It will result in the author still receiving (IMHO) a smaller percentage then they should, but for now I think its the best that can be hoped for.
I'm interested in what others have seen in their contracts or what they think might be a reasonable alternative.