The Google Book Settlement is causing more indigestion in the bellies of writers, libraries and publishers. Although the deadline for opting out was on May 5th, a court has granted a four-month extension to all writers. My unease at what looked like a monopoly is being echoed elsewhere. It’s not that this will be bad in the short run but in the long run, who knows? And I still find it disturbing that it’s a rock and a hard place decision.
Either you opt out completely so that you and a few others can try to sue Google, but in the meantime they might still take your already scanned book and use it. Or you opt in, becoming part of a system you don’t like, so that you can then get the money (even if only a pittance) for your scanned book, while hoping to say no to other scannings if you have new works coming out and you worry about the copyright.
It still gives Google all the control in either situation and your work, which you own, even if your book is technically out of print is available. This does mean that for authors who books/stories might never be reprinted that they have a chance at extended revenue. However, for those who might want to sell reprint rights or sell to a foreign market (even in the same language) will now have a problem because the book will already be available. There won’t be any big launch or release date and there won’t be any articles done to highlight the author’s career.
They (Google) can say this won’t happen but people have said all sorts of things and as the proverb goes: promises were made to be broken. It makes me very uneasy, yet I didn’t opt out because I would have had less of a voice. At this point in my career I only have short stories, articles and poems out in magazines and anthologies. There is no book of mine (except a chapbook) but still, one must always ask: what if? What it all boils down to is too much control by one entity, which is not even a person. The individual writers and publishers seem to lose some rights unless they stay eternally vigilant. No napping or you’ll wake up to find Google has scanned your book because they think it’s not “commercially available” by their terms.
I’ll be watching this as it unfolds and will try not to nap.
CNET News provides more info: http://news.cnet.com/8301-1023_3-10229372-93.html?tag=nl.e703
You can also read about “Justice Dept. Opens Antitrust Inquiry Into Google Books Deal”: http://www.nytimes.com/2009/04/29/technology/internet/29google.html?_r=2&emc=tnt&tntemail1=y
Thursday, May 07 http://januarymagazine.com/