Google’s “Temporary” Shut Down of Its eBook Publisher Portal Approaches the Two-Month Mark

Partner Center google play booksDoes anyone know what is going on behind the scenes at Google Play Books?

About two months ago Google surprised us all when they abruptly stopped letting authors and book publishers sign up to sell ebooks in Google Play Books. They offered no real explanation as to why they were declining new partners, instead telling us that they would "soon" end the "temporary" closure once they had improved their content management capabilities and their user experience.

That temporary closure has been going on for two months now (less one week) and Google is just as mum on the topic today as they were when I broke the news in May. They're not letting new people in, and they won't say why.

Does anyone have the inside story on what Google is doing behind the scenes? Do they ever plan to start dealing directly with new authors and publishers again?

To be clear, Google hasn't stopped selling ebooks, but they have stopped new authors from selling ebooks in Google Play Books. Only a single aggregator, eBookPartnership, claims to distribute to Google Play Books (Smashwords, Ingram Spark, BookBaby, and Draft2Digital do not list the store on their websites).

Edit: I was told on Twitter that Vearsa also distributes to Google Play Books. (Thanks, Dan!)

And that is concerning, folks. Google Play Books may not be a huge market everywhere and authors may not think it's worth their time, but to be shut out?

That is a problem, and it is one that Google won't talk about.

Hey, Google, how about talking to your business partners for once?


About Nate Hoffelder (11476 Articles)
Nate Hoffelder is the founder and editor of The Digital Reader: "I've been into reading ebooks since forever, but I only got my first ereader in July 2007. Everything quickly spiraled out of control from there. Before I started this blog in January 2010 I covered ebooks, ebook readers, and digital publishing for about 2 years as a part of MobileRead Forums. It's a great community, and being a member is a joy. But I thought I could make something out of how I covered the news for MobileRead, so I started this blog."

13 Comments on Google’s “Temporary” Shut Down of Its eBook Publisher Portal Approaches the Two-Month Mark

  1. It’s interesting that writers still complain about Amazon asking for exclusivity (in exchange for specific perks) when you have major companies like Google who refuse to let you publish, or insist you go through an aggregator (Oyster), or who dump books that are too popular (Scribd), or who delay in reporting and making payments (Smashwords).

    Amazon makes it very easy for anyone to publish, for free, and fairly collects, reports and distributes revenue. That’s still a pretty big and amazing thing.

    • You’re right that Amazon is the easiest distributor to deal with, but that doesn’t mean we shouldn’t call them out on the issues they drop the ball on. You can’t make any price promotions if you’re not selling with them exclusively, for instance, and they still refuse to officially distribute ebooks in a lot of languages.

      Even though Google Play is far, far worse in terms of accessibility, that doesn’t mean what Amazon is doing is acceptable.

  2. With Google, everything is a beta and subject to change. It’s not limited to their Google Play, I see that with other products as well from them.

  3. “Only a single aggregator, eBookPartnership, claims to distribute to Google Play Books ”

    In addition to Vearsa – not really aimed at self-publishers, with its fifty-title minimum – both Xin-Xii and Narcissus distribute indie titles to Google Play.

    What is remarkable is that the two giants of the indie-aggregator world, Smashwords and Draft2Digital – still do not.

    At this stage it’s not clear if eBook Partnership, Narcissus and Xin-Xii are still able to put indie titles into Google Play while the public-access portal is closed. Knowing that would give us a better idea of whether this is a measure against self-pubbed titles or simply an issue taking a long time to resolve.

  4. We distribute to Google Play Books as well.

  5. I distribute to Google and have for some time. Their interface needs work. It’s one of the hardest to navigate. It’s also confusing and their sales reports are…astoundingly difficult to manage.

    @Bell It’s just as easy, if not easier, to distribute directly with Kobobooks as it is with Amazon–no exclusivity required. They are by far my favorite retailer just because of that fact right there. Their interface is excellent, their payments prompt and their customer service excellent.

  6. Also, the existing portal does still work. I released Executive Dirt this week and one of the places I uploaded was Google Play. Nothing had changed as far as requirements or interface. If the delay in allowing new authors/publishers is related to their interface, I can believe it would take quite some time to switch things over, test and get a new interface up and running.

    • You’re telling me.

      I uploaded a book last Thursday, and I’m still waiting for it to go live.

      • If it’s taking that long, check for an error. They won’t EMAIL you if there is an error or anything modern like that. The outermost layer will say “processing” but if you go through the screens you may find an error. For example, if it doesn’t pass epub check, the file will fail, but it won’t really tell you that. You have to figure it out by looking at where you uploaded the file–on that screen check for errors.

        It can fail for a few reasons, but the longest it’s taken to go live is about 24 hours. Anything else is probably an error.

  7. Nice avatar, btw. It’s about time! You needed a very cool avatar!

  8. Was listening to a podcast featuring one of the co-creators of Draft2digital, and he was saying that the issue is that Google’s terms and Amazon’s terms don’t play nice with each other. So automating the process of using both is problematic.

Leave a comment

Your email address will not be published.