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Why I’ll Be Skipping Google Play

Two days ago I posted about Kindle Unlimited and the myriad reasons I was unwilling to sign on with them. Today it’s Google Play.

I was actually surprised to discover (or rediscover, actually) that Google is a vendor where authors can sell their self-published books. Onto the to-do list it went, especially since being on Google Play would have let me write a post about people reading my new short fiction collection on both iPhones and Android phones.

Then I mentioned the plan on Twitter and @DianePatterson dropped a couple of links on me. The first was about the automatic discount that Google Play put on every book they sell (which seems to be about 23%). Since Amazon and other vendors have automatic price matching, an author’s books will suddenly drop everywhere within a day.

More damning is this post, which makes it clear that GPlay reserves the right to give away my books for free, at their own discretion, which of course means that other vendors like Amazon will match that price, killing any revenue they might have generated.

I’ll occasionally criticize Amazon on this blog, but what Google pulls here is a real deal-breaker.

Also, this makes me wish I had the time to cruise through the Kindleboards. I know there’s great information there, but like reddit and AbsoluteWrite, it’s just too big for me to wade into, searching through the noise for some signal.

Mirrored from Harry Connolly. You can comment here but not there.


Aneurin Price
Jul. 25th, 2014 09:32 am (UTC)
>All the vendors know what happens to self-published authors if they drop the prices to zero

Well yes, the answer appears to be that Amazon will join suit

>So far, Google Play is the only one who have done it and harmed authors

But the principal complaint here it that if Google does it, then Amazon will do it too, and that's what causes the actual harm, so nobody wants to let Google provoke the sleeping Amazon beast. If Amazon weren't in the picture, then Google giving away books while still paying the author as if they'd been sold at full price sounds like a great promotion at Google's expense.

This seems an awful lot like Stockholm Syndrome.

Just to check, if some book shop went out and bought 4000 copies of a book, then gave them away to entice people in to the shop, would everyone be similarly upset? If they would, then there are clearly factors in play here that aren't apparent from any of this discussion.

(I'm not trying to imply that your decision was wrong, BTW, because of course you have to live in the unfortunate reality along with the rest of us, but I really am trying to understand how this can be seen as anything but Amazon's fault.)
Jul. 25th, 2014 05:42 pm (UTC)
This seems an awful lot like Stockholm Syndrome.

Welcome to my blog/LiveJournal/Overall online presence!

Frankly, it's rare for me to mention Amazon without also taking a kick at some awful decision they've made; most everything I say about the company is criticism of one kind or another. In fact, this might be the first in a long while in which I talk about them without taking them to task. I'm not praising them, mind you, just laying culpability elsewhere.

I hardly think that's Stockholm Syndrome.

FWIW, other vendors also include price-matching in their contracts. It's just that Amazon is very good at enforcing it.

Anyway, your book shop giving away books doesn't really work, because it doesn't have the same effect on the author. A better analogy would be something like "Hey, it was the bear that bit you. Google only opened the cage."
Aneurin Price
Jul. 26th, 2014 08:48 am (UTC)
Okay, well, I really don't understand this *at all*, but I don't seem to be making any forward progress so I guess I'm going to give up now.