shut down stopped letting anyone sign up to use its book publisher portal earlier this year, they swore that this was a temporary move intended to give Google time to “improve our content management capabilities and our user experience”.
That was six months ago, and the portal is still closed. As we approach the six-month anniversary on Friday, it’s time we start asking not when the portal will reopen, but _if_ Google plans to reopen it at all.
Edit: A reader has pointed out that I left out an important distinction. The portal is not closed entirely; it is closed to new signups. Thanks, Steve!
When the shutdown happened, it was widely assumed that Google was responding to the problem of rampant piracy in Google Play Books. Pirates were uploading ebooks willy-nilly, and each time an ebook was removed in response to a DMCA notice, the pirates would simply upload another copy.
Eventually Google did take action against the piracy, but only after pressure was applied by publishers. Google kicked the pirates out and shut down the portal, preventing them from simply setting up another account continuing the whack-a-mole game of piracy.
And so far as we could see, the shutdown worked; the piracy slowed to a trickle. And that’s great, but what’s not so great is that Google hasn’t taken any other action to fight ebook piracy in Google Play Books. Furthermore, the portal has not reopened at any point in the past six months, nor has Google said when it will reopen or what they are doing behind the scenes that would justify its continued closure.
Which leads me to my question: Does anyone else wonder whether Google will ever reopen the portal?
While that sounds absurd to anyone who wants to sell ebooks, it makes a lot of sense from Google’s viewpoint. Google cares more about not being bothered by piracy than they do about selling ebooks (the most recent Google Play Books update showed how little Google cares about ebooks).
Since a closed portal means Google won’t be hassled about ebook piracy, it makes more sense from Google’s viewpoint to leave the portal shuttered than it does open the portal again. That would require Google to actively fight piracy.
Would you care to lay odds on whether Google will keep the portal closed, and require authors and publishers to use aggregators (Vearsa, Streetlib, eBookPartnership, etc) from now on?
image by Johan Larsson