Is Google Books Worth the Headaches?

As the number of self-publishers grows, the question has to be raised:  Is Google Books worth the headaches?

I’m pretty close to thinking it isn’t.

Let’s look at the issues:

  • How can a company that practically rules the Internet have such a sluggish and annoying interface?  Looking at your account on the  Google Books website is like waiting for AOL to dial up in 1995.  It’s maddening.  And once you get online, the interface is like something written in DOS.  It is ugly, confusing, and inefficient.
  • Google pays publishers 52% of retail, but others pay 65% or 70%.
  • Google is by no means the industry leader in selling eBooks, but it discounts all titles 5%.  This causes Amazon, the industry leader, to discount to price match.  Thus, you can lose a significant amount of money on all Amazon sales, because Amazon pays on net, not retail.  I have therefore already removed all of my titles from US sales by Google in order to preserve my preferred pricing at Amazon.  What few sales then come from Google are international.
  • There is no support.  As a small publisher, I have names and email addresses for three or four individuals at Amazon, Nook, Kobo, and Apple who will help me.  Google provides zero support.  When I called Google’s main phone number and asked for Google Books Partner Support, the receptionist tried to transfer me to Google Wallet.  Huh?
  • Like any publisher or self-publisher, I have no desire to “leave money on the table” and I recognize that even an incremental share of enough titles will eventually add up to real money.  But dealing with Google Books makes dealing with the IRS look like a breeze.  What publisher can waste an hour every month trying to reconcile a small payment from Google with the reports that load at a snail’s pace?  For me, the answer is none.
  • So am I dumping Google?  Not today, but almost certainly in the near future.  Because unless Google can get its act together and make life easier for publishers, I can’t see a reason to endure the headaches.



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