GBS: What Exactly Does Google’s Marketing Agreement Mean?

In his testimony before the House Judiciary Committee today, Google’s David Drummond announced that Google will sell access to books through third-party resellers, such as Amazon or Barnes and Noble. He pitched it both as a natural extension of Google’s plans to make books available in many forms, and as yet another answer to complaints that Google will be locking up the market for books. I’m having trouble getting clarity on exactly what Google plans to offer. Their blog post says only:

He announced that for the out-of-print books (including orphan works) being made available through the Google Books settlement, we will let any book retailer sell access to those books. Google will host the digital books online, and retailers such as Amazon, Barnes & Noble or your local bookstore will be able to sell access to users on any Internet-connected device they choose. Retailers can also pursue their own digitization efforts of out-of-print books in parallel.

I believe I also heard him say that Google and the resellers would “split” Google’s 37% share under the settlement, and that Google didn’t intend to take a large slice of it. So far, this resembles an affiliate marketing program; the service on offer is still fundamentally Google’s, although others may run the storefront. It is not the kind of compulsory compensated sharing of scans that, say, Gary Reback and the Open Book alliance have called for. I would love to think more carefully about the extent to which this program would meet their and similar objections—but first, I need more details! Anyone able to share more information? Googlers, this means you …

“It is time for Europe to turn over a new e-leaf on digital books and copyright”. Joint Statement of EU Commissioners Reding and McCreevy on the occasion of this week’s Google Books meetings in Brussels (7.09.2009)

Bringing the world’s lost books back to life (7.09.2009)

(Contribution by Jim Killock - Executive Director EDRi-member ORG

Amazon have turned down the offer. Their reply, as reported, was rather nicely put:

“The Internet has never been about intermediation,” said Paul Misener, Amazon’s vice president of global policy. “We’re happy to work with rights holders without anybody else’s help.” - CNET.