Monday, December 06, 2010

Google Editions: Watch Your Titles

The long promised Google bookstore came online today, and my automatic alerts started popping into my mail inbox as my novels started showing up on their website.  The problem is that I had explicitly told Google that I did not want them selling my books. It is a quality control issue.

I'm a one-man operation and I have been spending too much time already away from my writing desk trying to get good quality e-book editions out in the major marketplaces.  I had deliberately chosen to avoid the automated conversion operations like Smashwords specifically to insure that the books that go to the readers have been proofread and that I have the opportunity to fix typos and bad conversions whenever I discover them.  Currently, I'm struggling to fix the problems in getting my books into the Pubit marketplace and that process is taking too much time as it is.

When Google Books first came on the scene and offered publishers the opportunity to upload a PDF of their titles so that people could sample their books, I was happy to do so.  It looked like Google couldn't be stopped and I'd rather they have a good PDF rather than a scan.  They also offered to point interested readers to other marketplaces where my books could be purchased.  This was before Google declared itself a competitor.

The website that I used to manage my titles under their care mutated.  New tabs appeared, and one appeared to have a global 'allow Google Editions' checkmark, which I promptly turned off.  I thought I was probably safe.  I also did not upload an authorized epub version, nor enter the real ISBN number for my epub versions since I had no intention of selling them through Google until I was ready for that to happen.

I should have spent more time crawling the web forms.  Google grandfathered in a permission to sell ebook version that they converted from my PDFs without my ever giving it to them.  Anything I had entered before they turned on the Google Editions tabs was considered by them to be fair game.

So, back to this morning.  I click on the link to the Google ebookstore and enter my name in the search field.  Up pop my books with selling prices and buy buttons.  I try one and there's never a hint that they don't have permission.  I try the sample, and the autoconversion looks decent, but I'd have to spend days just checking to see what they had done.  Plus the price is double what I'm selling my authorized epubs at places like Apple, B&N, Kobo, etc. Google took the Amazon discounted price on my trade paperbacks and set their price at 80% of that.  It looks like Google also set up their own ISBN number for the autoconversion edition, and I wonder who the publisher of record is for that number.

Revisiting the Google Books site, under the Google Editions tab, in the book listing, I can edit each entry by clicking on the pencil icon and sure enough, all the early titles are marked as being authorized for sale.  I change that, one by one.  They still haven't dropped off the marketplace page yet, but I'm checking on a regular basis.

Maybe sometime soon, I'll turn them back on, with authorized epub editions with real ISBN numbers, but that will be my call on my schedule, and not as a land grab by Google.

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