Remember a couple months back when I reported that Google was insisting that authors sign up for an account with Play Books even though the author's ebooks were distributed through an aggregator?
I think I just found out why Google wants that connection.
About 3 weeks ago Google announced a new pricing policy for its ebookstore, Play Books. Anyone who accepts the revised ToS will now earn 70% royalty on ebooks sold in the USA, Canada, and Australia. (And unlike Amazon, Google will not charge a bogus "delivery fee".)
eBooks sold in Play Books in other countries will still earn a 52% royalty.
The ebooks have to be priced between $2.99 and $9.99 (USA and Canada) or $3.99 and $11.99 (Australia) to get the special royalty rate, but any ebook sold under the new terms will get the one thing that has annoyed authors and publishers for years: said ebook will be immune to Google's policy of automatic price cuts.
You can find out more from Google's help pages.
For almost as long as I have been tracking pricing policies, authors have been complaining about how Google would automatically cut the price of the ebooks they sold in Play Books. Since Amazon and other ebook retailers watch each other like a hawk, Google cutting the price inevitably lead to Amazon matching the price in the Kindle Store.
Authors had a practice of raising their ebook prices in Play Books as a counter to Google's automatic price cut policy, but now they will no longer have to engage in that song and dance.
The talk around the water cooler is that Google is getting serious about competing in the ebook market. I am not yet convinced that is the case; this could just as well be Google finally getting around to ending a policy that never accomplished anything.
What do you think it means?