Pub Rants

Doom & Gloom & Google

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STATUS: Four more hours until I can go home and vote!

What’s playing on the iPod right now? BOBBY JEAN by Bruce Springsteen

Oh my. I’m reading all my daily news feeds this afternoon and I have to say that even I was stunned at the Media Bistro headlines.

Get a load of this:

Time Inc. plans 600 layoffs

Christian Science Monitor to go Web-only (not bad news per se but certainly sign of the times I think!)

Gannett will Cut Ten Percent of Newspaper Jobs

McGraw Hill Cuts 270 Jobs


In other big, big news, from Wall Street Journal Google settles lawsuit [link from the AP] regarding book scanning and book search. And yes, it means one more thing to talk about during deal negotiations as this is yet another revenue stream. Luckily, my contracts manager and I already have discussed Google revenue and where it falls in many of our contracts.

Publishers Marketplace has several key stories regarding the news. [Click here and here] You may or may not have to subscribe to see the full story. And if you want to read the 141 page settlement, you certainly can by clicking here. I suggest, at the very least, reading Attachment A: Author-Publisher Procedures. Also, here’s the settlement administration link.

One of the big questions being kicked around is the difference between commercial availability and “in print.” Does the presence of a book in Google’s book search program constitute a work being in print? There’s a lovely explanation of the two tests to determine so in the Author-Publisher procedure. And, according to the Author’s Guild, the answer is no as the OOP clause in the contract still prevails and that should contain a sales threshold that defines whether a book is in print. From what I’ve read of the settlement, that is indeed correct.

But it’s still tricky. What happens when a book is considered OOP (and the rights have reverted to the author) but Google still makes the text searchable on their book search site (and is potentially generating revenue for that)?

Good question. And this too is addressed. Will Google then send statements (and checks) to the authors who hold the rights? Yes, they should (as that is covered under the Author-controlled Section 4.1 of Author-Publisher Procedures Attachment) but the onus is solely on the author and there are a lot of steps outlined! [Payment is detailed in 6.2]

And authors and agents thought it was hard enough extracting information from publishers regarding their royalty statements. This could take revenue tracking to a whole new level.

It’s a brave new world, isn’t it? Happy reading.

10 Responses

  1. Edward Chapman said:

    What makes me nervous is when people start shouting from the rooftops, “Doom and Gloom! We’re done! America is over!”

    I mean, come on people, it’s just a recession. And since the bible-thumpers are getting their pleasure off of proclaiming the devil is preparing his handbasket to come pick us all up, I don’t need everyday people telling me that now is NOT a time to get published. The thing is: that’s what I want to do, write!

    How can I not submit to try to get published? How is that fair when other writers have been doing it for ages?

    Just my rant…

  2. Amy Nathan said:

    In other words, times are continuing to change and in the long run this will be the norm. It will be harder and harder for authors to get agents because fewer books will be sold.

    I can’t get discouraged, I just bend as the wind blows.

  3. J said:

    I’m guessing they intentionally make some of this information hard to understand. 🙁 Must get agent before running out into the world.

  4. AC said:

    So many new technologies and laws for emerging writers to keep up with! I’m trying to educate myself, but if I ever land an agent, it’s nice to know I can cling to her coattails and let her handle the truly confusing stuff 🙂

  5. Twill said:

    Edward –

    I know a few Bible thumpers and that’s not what they’re saying. Please leave the straw men out in the fields where they belong.

  6. Professor Tarr said:

    You know the question about Google publishing my copyright protected but technically OOP book is an intriguing one. I’m mostly okay with it as an author as it is another audience for me.

    However, I have been thinking about that alot. The exact scenario described may happen to my first book. It was technically out of print for a bit, but still under copyright protection. If the publisher does not do a new edition in a specified amount of time (they just did a small French printing, so I guess the timeline starts anew) then the rights revert back to me.

    But what if Google publishes it in its entirety online during that interim. If the book were technically dead, I’d be okay with that – one more chance for readers to find my work.

    But let’s say the novel I’m currently sending around is a big deal (as I believe it should be) and suddenly there is a renewed interest in ALL my work?

    At that point, I no longer have an avenue for resurrecting my own intellectual property in some other form. That’s a little odd.

    Are Anne Rice’s early works as Anne Rampling still in print? If not, are they up for grabs? That is a bit dodgy for me. I think Ms. O’Brien-Rice should have the say on that. Just my thoughts.