Three romance novelists are suing their publisher, claiming breach of contract over royalty payments on the electronic versions of their stories.

Barbara Keiler, Mona Gay Thomas and Linda Barrett—all of whom write under different names—filed suit against Harlequin Enterprises Ltd., accusing the Canadian publishing company of paying them only a fraction of what they are owed on e-book royalties.

According to the royalty payment model on  traditional books, Harlequin receives 50 percent of the book’s cover price, and 50 percent of that amount goes to the book’s author. But, according to the suit, Harlequin is claiming that it must obtain a license to publish the e-books from a Swiss entity, subverting the original agreement. Under this other license, Harlequin claims the authors are only eligible for half of an amount equal to 6 percent to 8 percent of e-books’ cover prices. That amounts to somewhere between 24 and 32 cents per $8 book, but the authors believe they should receive about $2 per $8 book.

“Our authors have been recompensed fairly and properly for their work, and we will be defending ourselves vigorously,” said Donna Hayes, Harlequin’s publisher and CEO, said in a statement yesterday.

Read more InsideCounsel stories about e-book lawsuits:

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Apple rejects DOJ charge of e-book price collusion