Google Book Search Deal – The impact, initial thoughts

Eoin Purcell

So here are my initial thoughts & a poll

1) What about the rest of the world?
In the short term this just reinforces the impression that Europe is way behind America in making digital trade publishing a reality.

It not just that Amazon isn’t even bothering to launch Kindle in the UK in 2008 or that despite some decent sales, Sony’s Reader is making only ripples, but by being outside of this deal and being split into dozens of separate territories, Europe will be waiting for years until it is covered by a deal as comprehensive as thus! Just as it is taking years for sales of TV shows to shuffle onto our iTunes accounts.

As a consumer that is a frustration, as a small publisher it means more waiting, more second guessing myself and much much more wondering what the hell IS going to happen. The truth is, Google has the capacity to act to create an open market, just as Amazon has the capacity to create a closed market (as it is with Kindle).

Sub Note: The Proposed notice from Google & it soppents does contains ome details for the publishers of non-us books. Not sure how far it takes us but in any case here it is:

STATES: If you are a rightsholder who is a national of, or is otherwise located in, a country other than the United States, you are likely to own a U.S. copyright interest if (a) your Book was published in the United States, or (b) your Book was not published in the United States, but your country has copyright relations with the United States because it is a member of the Berne Convention, or (c) your country had copyright relations with the United States at the time of the Book’s publication. You should assume that you own a U.S. copyright interest in your Book, unless you are certain that your Book was published in, and that you reside and are located in, one of the few countries that have not had or do not now have copyright relations with the United States.
For a list of countries with which the United States has copyright relations, please visit or request it from the Settlement Administrator. If you own a copyright in a Book or Insert published in a country outside the United States, you are advised to seek advice from an attorney or a Reproduction Rights Organization to determine whether your interests would be better served by participating in this Settlement or opting out of the Settlement.
You may also contact the appropriate telephone numbers on the list attached to this Notice for further advice.

2) Finally a Soundly Based Orphan Rights Agency
The amount of money that will go to pay for the “Registry” seems to me to be a great outcome. Even a fancy Registry will take some time spending the money assigned:

US $34.5 million paid by Google to establish and maintain a Book Rights Registry (“Registry”) to collect revenues from Google and distribute those revenues to copyright owners.

Especially if as envisaged, it generates a revenue stream! Hopefully a similar model will be rolled out across the world! HOPEFULLY INDEED!

3) Revenue streams
If there is one thing likely to make publishers sit up and take notice, it is revenue streams. Money makes the world goes around after all. Google’s deal creates both the method of charging and a method for paying out any money generated.

For every publisher this is enticing, it makes working with google pretty attractive. And the beauty of it all is that Google does the back breaking work for you! Seems like a fools game! Which means there is a downside.

4) The Downside
Google wouldn’t be doing this if it didn’t help them achieve their goal, which aside from the urge to no “be evil”, is to make money and organise the world’s information.

Even if this works for the current crop of publishers, it surely brings us closer to the day when Google controls the entire publishing value change except the author.

If there is truly to be a digital trade publishing market, then Google controls all the access to that. they won’t need publishers to provide content, just authors (and maybe editors). Authors of course would no doubt be happy to get a bigger slice of the value if Google offers it!

Think it through and it is a little freaky for publishers. Of course it might be a ways off and the (and maybe editors) piece is of interest. Filters as we have discussed here previously are important. Perhaps Google’s core strength in search will enable it do automate the function of editors and allow readers preferences to filter the content of the masses.

Certainly, that is how they have succeeded on the web!

I’ll write some more when these thoughts develop.

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