Yeah! I mean, no thanks.

Google appears ready to go head to head with the Kindle. This, according to the NPR article, is what booksellers other than Amazon have been hoping for. It will provide them with a way to sell e-books and a very wide platform from which to do it. One major difference: the business model amounts to customers paying for access to material but not actual ownership of the material.
As a writer I find myself a little thrilled by this. Assuming that I would be paid in some way for access to my work I would have little trouble with the idea that people would be paying for that access. I can imagine it increasing readership: readers might try out a chapter or two of an author that they would be hesitant to try out with an actual book purchase. So, as a writer I think it’s an interesting concept and the right company to make a go of it.
However, as a reader and booklover, I feel a bit hesitant. I’m a little worried about my lack of purchasing the book itself, and what might the company’s stance on a particular title do to my access to it. The potential for censorship looms (remember Amazon’s “glitch” which sent dozens of books off their lists, mostly gay titles?). I understand that the market has to change, that what happened to the music industry 10 years ago must be incorporated or major publishers will find themselves, like major music publishers, dead in the water. But still, you mean I really can’t “own” the book? Really? That’s the solution?
I don’t know what will end up being the solution, but for now the writer and the reader in me don’t seem to be talking.

2 thoughts on “Yeah! I mean, no thanks.

  1. As a writer, do you have concerns about how this could affect publishers at the intersection point with writers? I mean, how might this change advances (the concept of artistic or commercial sponsorship in a loose way), editing and feedback, promotional efforts on the part of the publisher? Even the selection process for new work — does it lead to more books about Britney Spears, or, God help us, more books written by Britney? (That’s how I form my political stance on most issues; the is-Britney-more-in-my-face factor.)

  2. Hey, Sean, it’s your old friend Liz. Congratulations on your novel! I just saw it on a deal report. That’s really major. Good for you. You’ll have to let Paul and me know when it comes out. We’ll come to a reading and show our support. Way to go!

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