Wednesday, December 1, 2010

So what do we think about Google Editions?

Google's ebooks venture, Google Editions, appears poised to launch within the next month, and in theory, I like it.  I've been begging anybody who would listen to please make my out-of-print books available, cheaply, in electronic editions, but for a midlist, non-genre writer, this is just not a doable thing.  It appears that, if you own the rights to your work, you'll be able to sell copies through Google at whatever price you like.

One thing that's confusing me is this line: "To sell the Google Edition of a book, you must hold the electronic rights to that book, including all images and other book content."  Does this mean that a writer needs to own the rights to, say, the cover?  The layout?  The design?  Becuase I'm not sure that any of us do, at least those of us whose books have already been published and are now out of print.  I do now hold the rights to my first three novels, but not, I'd imagine, the visual elements designed and executed by my former publishers.

Anyway, this will presumably all be clear next month.  I find the whole thing unnerving, of course, and still doubt that Google will ever pay me anything, for any reason.  (Where, by the way, is my Authors' Guild Settlement check, eh?)  But if this is the way the wind is blowing, I suppose I will let myself be carried along with everybody else.

8 comments:

rmellis said...

Perfect opportunity to design your own cover! Photoboy!

rmellis said...

Oh, and to answer your question: we don't like Google editions. Because Google ain't going to be happy until it owns the rights to the insides of our brains.

jrlennon said...

I asked my agent about this and even he doesn't have a position on it yet. Google's enthusiasm is infectious yet deeply creepy. The literary world is standing around grinning uncomfortably, asking how's the weather in Mountain View and nice search engine you have there and please don't kill me please?

Sung said...

Google is just humongous and growing bigger every day, and giving so much control to a single entity isn't probably the best idea, but what can we do, really? Google Maps is so slick, so nice...and Gmail, too. At least they don't have a stranglehold on social networking, but it's not as if Facebook is any better.

This sounds like it could work. I've used Google Books a lot, and it has annoyed me that I could only see a portion of the text...

Pete said...

The economic terms seem reasonable if I'm reading them right: the author (assuming you own the rights) gets 45-52% of the list price which is default 80% of the lowest list price of the print book or set by the author. If Google promotes the book through discounts, the author is still paid their split based on list price.

I didn't read the whole contract though, so maybe section 29a says hah, hah, just kidding. You should read that section.

jrlennon said...

"the author shall be paid in noogies"

Shelley said...

I'm so glad to hear you asking these questions because I'm totally confused about what to do with my work.

I wish it were enough just to be a writer.

Hugh McGuire said...

To answer the specifics: cover rights are a headache...and you almost certainly don't have rights to the cover (which would be defined in a contract between publisher & artist & often doesn't include electronic rights). Now, whether anyone would do anything about it is another story.

I wouldn't sweat the layout & design though.