The saddest part about this new release is how everyone is making such a big deal about it, like it’s something new. It’s sad because it just goes to show how unused the Google Books Platform was that all they had to do was create a new homepage for it and everyone is all “oooh new and shiny” because they’d never looked at the fool site before and didn’t realize its the same site they’ve had up for many years now. I guess it’s a boon for Google’s PR department, that they fooled everyone into reporting on this as a new thing but I just can’t help but shake my head. You can view the new Google eBookstore here.

So, yeah, the good old Google Books Platform (which was itself something of a knock-off of Amazon’s Search Inside the Book in many ways) got a new homepage that focuses on selling eBooks. That’s, literally, the only part that is new. My publisher account has had the option to sell eBooks through Google for some time now and the publishing process is the same as the old Google Books upload process. Once you get past the new homepage, even the interface is the same (which is disappointing because it sorely needed an update).

The only reason I have any interest in this news release is that I’m hoping all the increased media attention will result in more sales and greater visibility for Google Books.

The one nice thing is that, if you never used the eBook function of Google Books before but you already have your books in the program, selling them as eBooks is very simple. You just fill out one form and hit publish.

A few things:

  • Their verbiage is awful. If you want to know simple info, such as what percentage per copy of my eBook will I be paid, you have to dig and dig. To some extent, it’s as if they expect you to already be very familiar with the Google Books platform before you begin which is sort of funny since they are simultaneously pretending its brand new.
  • Publishing is very easy if you’ve already uploaded your book but it annoys me they only let you preview the “original pages” version of your eBook and not the discovered text version. Obviously, I know what my original pages look like. I’m more interested in seeing how you mucked them up with your robots.
  • Setting a price for your eBook is discouraged with percentage based pricing the default. This is very weird and I know is going to tick publishers off. They want you to give them a set percentage and then they will sell the eBook for that percentage off the cheapest version of the printed book. This seems like more of a retailer mindset than in favor of the authors/publishers and I do not love it. Now, you can still just set a price for the book, but you know more people are going to go for the default (which is 80%!!). That, to me, paints Google as the bad guy on this one favoring the lowest price instead of focusing on “what does the author or publisher want to make” like the other eBook platforms do. 
  • They give you the option to opt into printed and eBook bundles which I think is a very cool idea and I wish Amazon would do something like that with the Kindle.
  • I can’t imagine how these books are going to look an eReader. The only previews of my books they let me see are just the actual PDFs which are all sorts of odd sizes that I cannot see looking anything other than distorted on an eReader. I think this comes back to my second objection above, how they won’t let me see how they are converting it.

My take? I feel like anyone with electronic written content to sell can’t afford to not take advantage of every platform out there so I’m going to put my books up for sale there. But, as far as eBook publishing and reading platforms go, this one is far behind many of the others.