And I’m pretty excited about the coming age of ebooks and the potential of Google Editions. According to the WSJ, Google Editions could be coming to the U.S. soon and other countries soon after. TNW is right on top of the news about this, but I wanted to take the author’s privilege and wax poetic about what this might mean for writers and authors.
First, you need to know that I don’t write fiction, I write for Pearson Technology Group (Que, Sam’s, and many others). I write books on blogging, WordPress, and social media. My publisher is betting big on ebooks and how ebooks will make the books I write more interactive, in depth, and up to date than ever before. I gather from another WSJ article on ebooks that fiction writers are none-to-pleased with ebooks and how they are making less money since the dawn of “e”. Myself, well, let’s say Pearson is more forward thinking about how ebooks and authors and publishers are good for each other. In the world of tech writing, being able to be lighter and faster is much, much better than waiting.
Case in point, my latest book Using WordPress. There are three entire chapters (not to mention additional audio and video commentary) that we were able to keep electronically, though they couldn’t make it into the paper book. If it wasn’t for the electronic versions, you wouldn’t have that. Unfortunately, my publisher isn’t perfect. If you buy the book electronically, you still have to go to the publishers site to get the additional chapters.
But I digress.
Several things excite me about Google getting into publishing. First is that they aren’t going to be tied to a physical ereader. They are starting off from the perspective of distributing content. Which is how it should be. But that independence might come at a price: adoption. I have an iPad, as you know, and I buy and read most of my books through Toronto-based Kobo. I’ve liked the Kobo reader from the start, it had a better reading experience from the get go (not to mention pulling the DRM from the books I bought so I could load them into iBooks wasn’t fun). However Kobo is affiliated with a couple of existing bookstores (up here it’s Chapters-Indigo), will I be able to read Google ebooks that I buy with the Kobo reader that has the rest of my books? Will I be able to read them in iBooks? Big question there about whether or not Google Editions will take off. I might be able to add another reader to my iPad, but Kindle, Nook, and Kobo Reader owners can’t.
According to reports, I sounds like I’ll be able to offer affiliate links for readers to buy my (and other) books through Google Editions, just like Amazon. This could be something that will help Google gain traction early on. We know that Adsense is a pretty successful venture for Google. We know it works and can be pretty good for earning money on a site. I don’t see any reason why Google Editions will be any different.
So, we have a potentially more independent book seller, not tied to a physical reader, who will also let me earn money by recommending books. I’m good with this so far.
But will Google Editions help independent publishers and authors? Will it help niche writers expand their audiences? I’m going to work off a couple ideas here to say: yes on both. First, if a publisher wants to push more electronic books, the production costs are certainly less with digital editions than “dead-tree” versions. So being able to take more risks on authors who they might otherwise pass on, is a win for us scriveners. On the distribution front, until now, Amazon ruled the roost for self-published ebooks. While details aren’t available right now, I would suspect that Google would love to poke Amazon with a sharp stick and offer ebook publishing services as well. That gives publishers and authors another outlet, that means competition. That sounds good to me.
Here is the bottom line. I’ve always seen ebooks as a boon for authors and publishers who can adapt to them. I’m not saying paper books are going anywhere (though for me they keep going in drawers), I’m saying that ebooks allow authors to offer books to a large audience while keeping costs low with lower print runs. If the ebook sells better than the paper one, well don’t print as many of the paper ones.
Yes, not everyone will be able to take advantage of this and Google Editions might wind up like Google Wave and Buzz, but I think that in the last few months we’ve seen more interest in epublishing not less and I think this interest is going to turn into success for Google.
If they don’t blow it.
But hey, what do I know. I’m just Tris, and I just write books.