Monday, November 03, 2008

The Great Book Bank Robbery – More questions?

Is it Part 2

TMCnet editor Michael Dinan, in his article ‘Competitive Internet Advocate: Google's $125 Million Book Deal Is Sneaky, Dangerous’ refers to Scott Cleland, chairman of, who cites the agreement as being tantamount to ‘a small fine and a doorway to total power over all digital publishing’. According to Cleland, “Crime does indeed pay – if you have Google’s willingness to break the law and their market power to profit off of their law-breaking.’

Carolyn Kellogg writing in the Los Angles Times, 'The Google-publishers-authors settlement: What will it mean?' says that, ‘No author is going to survive off one $60 per-book payment -- even the mega-prolific Joyce Carol Oates, if she owns all her rights, would walk away with a little less than $7,000. That's nice, but it's not a living.’

She goes on to question the business model of the rights registry and whether the initial payment by Google and ongoing support by subscriptions and usage fees will be adequate and what publishers and authors can expect going forward. Obviously the unanswerable questions are on the revenues that advertising and subscriptions could generate. Finally she questions what the impact of full-access terminals at public libraries for free will be and how the existing ebooks will compete?

We think that the recurring theme being raised by many in the aftermath of the announcement should generate a healthy debate and exploration of the potential impact this will have on all across the publishing life cycle. Once the dust has settled and we fully understand what has been given away we hope that the decision will be revisited and not just blindly rubber stamped.

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