Google books up its ideas to fire up e-book future
It's all about bloody e-books at the moment, innit? The weekend saw heavyweight publishers Macmillan lay seven bells out of Amazon in a spat that will have ramifications for the future pricing of e-books. Now it's Google declaring the right to publish any book they pretty much feel like.
It's actually been going on for several years since Google Books was first launched. Our future planetary masters are attempting to finalise a court settlement to sell digital versions of out-of-print books; that's not books that are out of copyright - even the bestsellers of five or ten years ago may no longer be reprinted because demand has waned. Google wants to acquire the digital rights to these titles and is haggling other the settlement details with US publishing bodies and authors. Although only US customers would be able to buy the content initially, they're looking to acquire the rights to material by authors elsewhere in the world.
What's happened since this process began, and what's irritating many authors and publishers is that they were opted into the deal by default, and had to actively opt-out by the end of last month - otherwise Google grabbed the right to publish their work. Google also wants to publish "substantial extracts" of each title before the buyer decides whether to purchase the book in full.
And of course, Google is the innocent party in this, insisting the matter is "not about acquiring rights to books" but about "creating a new revenue channel for rights holders, and opening up access to these books". Google fail to mention what a ludicrously rich vein of revenue it would open up for them - as it stands, they're proposing to cream off 37 per cent of the revenue.
It's all about bloody Google at the moment, innit?