Friday, April 06, 2012

Google Cancels eBooks Reseller Program, Dropping Indies


Both the ABA and Powell's Books indicate Google informed them on Tuesday it is cancelling their eBooks reseller partnerships as of January 31, 2013. ABA ceo Oren Teicher told members in an email, "Google's decision to discontinue the program is, therefore, far larger than just IndieCommerce and the users of our product. After January 31, 2013, Google will sell e-books through Google Play only." Google says on their blog that "the reseller program has not gained the traction that we hoped it would, so we have made the difficult decision to discontinue it." Whether that's a statement about the resellers or the core program itself is an open question. Google notes, "looking at the results to-date, it’s clear that the reseller program has not met the needs of many readers or booksellers." By their count they only have "16 reseller partners" and the search giant says "this change will help us focus on building the best ebooks experience we can across hundreds of devices with millions of books. Books will continue to be a major content the Google Play store."
Teicher remarked, "To say the least, we are very disappointed in Google's decision, but, we have every confidence that, long before Google's reseller program is discontinued, ABA will be able to offer IndieCommerce users a new alternative e-book product, or choice of products, that will not only replace Google eBooks as it currently works on IndieCommerce sites but that will be in many ways a better product."

In a separate release, Emily Powell of Powell's Books said, "The news from Google is extremely disappointing. Our decision three years ago to partner with Google and provide Google eBooks was an important move for Powell's, to solidify our place in the highly competitive ebook industry.  We believed in good faith that we would be partners with Google far into the future, and we invested in that portion of our business accordingly." Google has not responded to a request for comment yet.
Powell's has continued to use Ingram to supply some ebooks and "will explore opportunities to expand that business in response to the loss." Ironically, the change may provide an opening for Barnes & Noble to extend their platform to independent bookstores. At the Digital Book World conference in January, BN executive Jim Hilt indicated interest in collaborating with independent bookstores: "what we want to do is to be working together to get more books in front of more readers." It's expected that BN's platform expansion, including the internationalization of their business, will launch relatively soon. And Nook already has an ebook sales partnership with Books-a-Million.

In other clashes among the bookselling titans, Barnes & Noble has agreed to a request from the Authors Guild to resume carrying already-published Marshall Cavendish print titles in their physical stores. "Barnes & Noble has agreed to our request to bring Marshall Cavendish children's books back to their stores' shelves. By our count, more than 250 authors and 150 illustrators have been affected." The bookseller has not changed their policy about new titles from Amazon Publishing imprints.

The Guild had asked "that authors and readers not become collateral damage." The organization reasoned that "the authors and illustrators who signed contracts with Marshall Cavendish had no way of anticipating that the publisher would assign their contracts to Amazon." Note that, while Amazon's deal to acquire the Marshall Cavendish Children's list was announced in December, neither party has confirmed the closing of the deal (and the MC website continues to feature their children's line.)

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