Google E-Books Explained

In an effort to rival Amazon, Google has started their own ebook store. The new endeavor launched December 6th with more than three million titles available, though many of those are public domain books. Not that that’s a bad thing. I’m all for the classics moving into the digital age. eBook formats include Android, Sony, Nook, iPhone, iPad, iPod Touch and web viewing, and they have a selection of free reads, as well. Of note, they are not compatible with the Kindle.

The question that’s floated around is whether or not this new site is indy author friendly, and the answer is yes, yes they are. In fact, here is the direct quote (which can be found here)

“If you’re self-published, or the rights to your book have reverted back to you, you can join the program yourself by sending us your books or uploading them in PDF format. Check out our Author Resources page to learn more.”

This is where things might get confusing.

To join you can create an account with an existing google account, or create a new one. But, first have to sign up with Google books. Google books is an oft debated search-able database of books that google has scanned into their system. (more on that later). Once you’ve joined and agreed to allow your books to be listed, that’s when you get the option to join the ebook store.  In fact there are separate ToS for each. This one is for the Google Books program, while this is the addendum for the eBook store.

As I mentioned about the Google Books project, there were a lot of authors who felt that their copyrights were violated when Google started archiving portions of their books in the original Google Books program. To remedy this, Google is paying out to authors who had books in print prior to January 5, 2009 that they archived without permission, and they now offer the option for you to claim your book (do so here) and add a “Buy here” link to their directory listings. (I assume you can also have the book removed, but I haven’t looked into that) However, right now those links can only go to your website (if you’re selling books on it)not to Amazon, Smashwords, or any other third-party site.

This is where the eBook store comes in. When you submit your books to Google’s ebook store, they will then link the “buy book here” button on your google book to your Google eBook listing.

But before you worry about how much of your book is being shared, know that you can change the amount. Default is 20%, but you can choose to share more or less.

One down side to their process, in my opinion, is that to submit, books must be in a PDF format, and must be named very specifically by their ISBN numbers.  Here are the details on how to do that. Of course, you can also send them a print version and they will manually enter it for you, but by the time you buy your print version and mail it, you’ve spent more than the time it would have taken to PDF is worth.

So, should you bother? If you have a book published before January 5th, I’d at least go check to see if they have it listed because they may owe you money from advertisement clicks. To sign up for the one is not to sign up for the other, so don;t have to commit to the eStore if you don’t want to. Personally, I’ve signed up for the Google Books program, and will also agree to the eStore, though I haven’t uploaded anything because I’ve been busy. As an android phone owner, I may also look into purchasing from them in the future. I’ve tried the Kindle for android and didn’t like it very much, but this may be better – or it may not. as with any new endeavor, it’s a gamble. but, the way I look at it is since you’re not signing any book rights away, what do you have to lose?

For more information, here is a link to the help section, which s actually pretty useful for a change.



12 thoughts on “Google E-Books Explained

  1. mariminiatt December 10, 2010 / 9:42 am

    A few months ago I got an email from Google to set up an account. Things have changed. Because halfway through the sign up, the ISBN and Copyright notice came up and it felt wrong. I felt as if they were not protecting my book. Nice to see they took care of that.

    • Joleene Naylor December 12, 2010 / 10:09 am

      Yeah, I guess there was a law suit over it… I haven;t researched it, but they say this is a class action settlement.

  2. Ruth Ann Nordin December 10, 2010 / 3:25 pm

    I went through to sign up and realized they can discount our books by however much they want to, and that would mean they’ll discount our books at Amazon, Kobo, and other places to match Google’s price. I’m waiting until they stop discounting books. I lost some good money this year because I didn’t realize Kobo’s discounting my books meant loss of profits at Amazon.

    It looked like a good idea, but I think it’s best to wait until Smashwords negotiates with them on going with an agency model contract. Then I’ll let Smashwords upload them for me.

    • Joleene Naylor December 12, 2010 / 10:09 am

      I’m going to go ahead and upload mine to the book portion of the project so it can be indexed, but will hold off on the ebook store, maybe.

      • Ruth Ann Nordin December 12, 2010 / 4:51 pm

        I think soon the whole price thing won’t even be an issue so you might as well get a head start.

  3. Elizabeth Reyes December 10, 2010 / 7:39 pm

    Thanks for the info Joleene. I tend to be very paranoid. I’ve been following the buzz about this. But as I did with Pubit at Barnes and noble and just barely as of today finally published with them, I think I’ll wait until they iron out all the kinks, if any. =/

  4. Frances Grimble December 11, 2010 / 12:00 am

    The current e-bookstore is completely outside the proposed Google Book Settlement (which was designed to settle a class action suit). The judge is still deliberating on the proposed Settlement (in conjunction with a later class action suit filed by visual artists who own copyrights to book illustrations, designs, etc.). The proposed Settlement has not been approved and therefore, no copyright owners have been opted in by default. You do not have to opt into the Settlement to sign up with the new Google e-bookstore, and the terms of the Settlement differ from the contract offered for the store.

    I looked at the e-bookstore contract for publishers and also the contract with users/readers–it’s important to see what Google is legally promising them. (See the blog for links to all the relevant documents. )

    Of concern is the fact that books are being offered for viewing “perpetually,” on an unlimited number of devices. Meaning, tons of people could use one account and read your book on Google’s servers for years, without paying for more than one copy for the whole group. The promise of Adobe DRM is meaningless because the software merely allows some protections to be set up. No technical details about what HAS been set up have been publicly revealed.

    Another concern is a clause that binds you to agreeing to completely undescribed “promotions” involving your book at Google’s sole choice. It is not clear what is being promoted–your book(s), the Google search engine, other publishers’ competitive books, or manufacturers’ related non-book merchandise. It is not clear whether you will have to pay for the promotions and/or have to give away large numbers of e-copies of the chosen book(s) without being paid for any of them.

    I also opted out of the proposed Settlement–I don’t like its terms either. I don’t want to do business with Google at all.

  5. Alannah Murphy December 12, 2010 / 2:39 pm

    Sounds good Joleene, thank you for posting these to us newbies who are only just starting to see the options that are open to us.

    • Joleene Naylor January 12, 2011 / 12:04 am

      You’re welcome! It seems like there’s a new option available almost every day!

  6. Business December 13, 2010 / 1:56 am

    This is a super blog.I love coming here.You content is great.

  7. ascensionforyou January 10, 2011 / 1:35 pm

    Excellent info and summary Jo, much appreciated. I have just opened an account and uploaded book info too them using their downloaded google reader.( which was easier than changing my document file names as they need the cover / content/ back cover in that order in / on the files. You can embed a small thumb nail picture -via the product set up scren -on the google bar which is then linked to your own site ( my site is still not up and running yet so behind on that one) using an easy copy and paste code again.
    Re payments , simple process too, electronic or cheques system. Any other avenue for exposure for our books can’t be bad so id recommend people use it. Thanks again Dave

    • Joleene Naylor January 12, 2011 / 12:03 am

      Thanks for the further info! I’ve uploaded the books, but haven’t gone any farther than that.

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