Google Partnering With Publishers To Sell Online Books

Google gave me the heads-up late Friday that a new feature allowing
publishers to sell online versions of their books through
Google Book Search was about to go live.
Nothing was yet online when we talked, but that’s since changed. A new help
page,

What does it mean to sell online access to my book?
, explains that the
program is the first in a series of revenue tools being rolled out for
publishers.

The experiment will allow publishers to sell access to their books online,
something Google hinted was coming back in
November and
January.
Publishers set a price, then consumers can buy and read the book online. At the
moment, the program supposedly will not allow copies of the book to be saved to
a computer or pages to be printed ("copy pages") to be made. We’ll see.
So far,
Google’s existing protections limiting what users can see from books online have
not been cracked, to my knowledge.

The program does not allow anyone but publishers in the US and UK who are
voluntarily in the Google Books
Partner Program
to sell books online. Google also has book content that
comes from its library scanning program. These books are not being sold. It
bears stressing:

GOOGLE IS NOT SELLING BOOKS THAT IT HAS SCANNED FROM THE COMPLETELY
SEPARATE GOOGLE LIBRARY PROGRAM.

Despite the capital letters and bolding, expect that many will begin saying
that Google is now illegally selling books that it has scanned from libraries,
just as many incorrectly say Google is reprinting scanned books online (they
aren’t). Some will do this out of misunderstanding. Some opposed to the library
scanning program will do it on purpose, just to continue muddying the waters. To
understand the myths and realities, please consider reading these past posts
from me:

Want to start buying books now? Hang in there. Google told me that first
they’re getting publishers up and running, then at some undetermined point in
the future, books available for sale will be offered.

John Battelle’s got a very short note on the new page being up over
here. As a sidenote,
be sure to check out
John Battelle’s
The Search and Google Book Search
that John
pointed at last week.
In the interview, you can see how his publisher Penguin won’t let books go into
Google Book Search despite John wanting to be there. I like this part of the
copyright page in his book:

The scanning, uploading, and distribution of this book via the Internet or
via any other means without the permission of the publisher is illegal and
punishable by law.

Wow — I didn’t know the
lawsuit over
the library scanning program had been settled. Certainly it’s fair use for
anyone to copy, scan and do other things with pieces of the book without
permission, depending on the various circumstances involved. Whether the entire
book can be scanned for indexing purposes, rather than reprinting online, is
what the lawsuit that Penguin and others are trying to discover.

By the way, distribution of the book "via any other means" is also mentioned.
I wonder if every library that has a copy of the book got the publisher’s
permission to redistribute to their patrons. I’m guessing not. Expect libraries
to be sued shortly.

Back to book selling, the Unofficial Google Weblog

points
to
Google Offers Online Pay Plan
from Publishers Weekly, which quotes Google
talking about "perpetual access" to the books you buy, plus Google saying
publishers will get the majority of the price charged, though Google itself will
of course also cash in.

Threadwatch points at this
blog post, which covers how
publishers in the partner program got the news via email and citing one
anonymously who is surprised/shocked that publishers are being asked to enroll
without yet seeing what the money split will be exactly. Good point.

Information Week has

news
of publishers Taylor & Francis and Brill already signed up to sell
through the service.

For more on Google Book Search, please see our

Google: Book Search & Library
category, if you are a Search Engine Watch
member (and
thank you, if so). You might also check out
A Look Back as
Google’s Library Project Passes the One Year Mark
.

Want to comment or discuss? Please visit our
Google To
Sell Online Books
thread at our Search Engine Watch Forums.

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