Skip to main content

Google Play Books is Cutting Out the Middleman, Now Wants a Direct Relationship with Authors and Publishers

Many authors and publishers use a company such as PublishDrive or Draft2Digital to handle their distribution to smaller ebook retailers. They trade a small cut of their revenue for less hassle in managing their ebook offerings across multiple smaller ebookstores whose sales do not justify a direct relationship.

One would think that it is a good deal all around. Google, however, would disagree.

I’ve just heard about a policy Google started enforcing a couple months backs. It seems that Google now wants all authors and publishers with titles in Google Play Books to have a direct account with Play Books.

The change in policy was first mentioned by PublishDrive a little over a month ago (Dale Roberts covered it at the time) but I first heard about it today in a forwarded email from Draft2Digital (Thanks, Steve!).

D2D informed its users of the change, and assured them that D2D would continue to manage existing titles in Play Books on their behalf. D2D will not, however, be distributing new titles to Play Books. And because the policy effectively requires D2D to manually manage each author’s account, they also cannot offer all of their services for books in Play Books.

What this policy looks like to this blogger is Google squeezing out the middlemen. It’s not clear why Google is enforcing this policy (could it be a result of Google’s rampant piracy problem of a few years ago?) but it is going to make it harder for distributors to operate.


For the last couple of months, we have been distributing titles to Google Play in a public beta program. As a beta, we anticipated that there would eventually be some changes and updates to the program, to incorporate what we’ve learned, as well as any policy updates from Google..

One such policy update is that Google Play now requires all authors and publishers to have a direct account with Google.

Though this change impacts how D2D distributes to the Google Play platform, we have been informed that Draft2Digital can continue to manage direct accounts on the author’s behalf. However, this new policy does create some challenges.

Google’s requirements do not scale for a service provider with 60,000 clients, which means that distribution to Google Play will require a more time-consuming process on our end. This method of distribution would also prevent us from offering you our full suite of services on the Google Play platform, though you will continue to receive these services for our other sales channels.

Effective immediately, we have temporarily suspended all new title distribution to Google while we investigate and discuss solutions to Google’s requirement. 

If you believe that you would be unable to distribute your titles to Google Play without the use of Draft2Digital’s services, we encourage you to contact [email protected], and to explain why you depend on Draft2Digital to make distribution to Google Play convenient and efficient.

Please be polite and cordial in your communications with Google
. Policies such as these, even if misguided, are meant to protect everyone’s best interests. But I do recommend that you stress what Google is losing by enacting this requirement, and I would encourage you to request that D2D be made an exception to this policy.

We ask that you please be patient as we work through implementing the best possible solution for you in this very challenging situation. We will continue to keep you informed about progress and changes as they happen.

Similar Articles


Anna Castle May 16, 2019 um 4:39 pm

Several years ago you could distribute directly to Google Play by going through their arduous and poorly-designed interface. I did it for a couple of my books, but could never get a link that made any sense. Never sold anything. After a while (more than one year, probably two), I bailed out, asking them to remove my books and close my account. (I hope.) Then they start this "partnership" with D2D, a reliable company with whom I’ve had nothing but good experiences, so I decide to participate in thei Google Play beta thing. Fine. Oh, but your prices have to be a lot higher, because Google will change them arbitrarily. D2D handled that, stalwarts that they are.

Now Google has changed its royal mind again, it would seem. This time, I’m not going along. If, five years from now, Google Play is a thriving and stable environment for selling books, I’ll reconsider.

Kate Stead May 17, 2019 um 2:21 am

It’s interesting.
Some years ago, we tried to distribute directly with Google Play Books and they weren’t allowing any new author accounts to be created.
So we couldn’t use them.
I was quite excited when they started working with D2D.
It will be interesting to see if now they are accepting new author accounts – or do they want to just be for the big five?

Henry Vogel May 17, 2019 um 7:35 am

Google’s share of the ebook market is minuscule. With this move, I’ll need a thesaurus and a dictionary to find a word that means "even smaller than minuscule."

Will Entrekin May 17, 2019 um 9:47 am

Everyone’s share of the ebook market besides Amazon, Apple, and maybe Kobo is minuscule.

Henry Vogel May 17, 2019 um 10:31 am

Agreed. But this is an odd move if you believe Google wants to increase their market share,

Roland Denzel May 21, 2019 um 8:19 pm

I got that email and decided to go direct with Google, only they’ve closed the process down so no one can make a new account anymore. Just like it was a few years ago.

DMK May 22, 2019 um 4:53 pm

Hmnnn. I wonder if this new policy is also why I’m no longer seeing links to Google Play Books in my Bookbub offers?

Deb Stover May 23, 2019 um 9:28 am

Google wants a direct relationship with authors, because it/they/whatever wants our personal contact information. When we use D2D, authors can protect ourselves, our families and our privacy from the Google Monster. This move eliminates that protective barrier. Ad others have stated, Google’s share of the market is not worth the sacrifice.

États-Unis : le rôle des distributeurs restreint par Google – BookSquad May 28, 2019 um 1:33 pm

[…] Trois acteurs dans la vente de livres en ligne   Aux États-Unis, de nombreux auteurs et éditeurs passent par des distributeurs tels que PublishDrive et Draft2Digital (D2D), afin de diffuser les versions numériques de leurs ouvrages sur le marché du commerce en ligne. Les distributeurs touchent généralement une part de 10% du prix lors de la vente d’un ebook.   PublishDrive travaille par exemple avec Amazon, Rakuten (Kobo), Apple (sur sa bibliothèque numérique iBooks) ou encore Scribd. L’entreprise s’occupe de la diffusion de livres dans plus de 70 pays et distribue les livres numériques de plus de 4500 éditeurs.    Dans la même veine, Draft2Digital distribue auprès de plusieurs vendeurs du commerce en ligne : Amazon, Barnes & Nobles, Rakuten (Kobo), OverDrive, Scribd, et bien sûr, Google.   La restriction du rôle des distributeurs   Cependant, Google a, depuis quelques semaines, commencé à réduire le rôle des distributeurs en voulant développer des relations directes avec les auteurs et les éditeurs diffusés sur sa boutique en ligne. Les auteurs et éditeurs sont donc invités à créer un compte sur la boutique en ligne de Google s’ils veulent continuer à vendre leurs ouvrages sur Google Play.   Les raisons de ce changement de politique ne sont pas encore connues, mais les clients de D2D – auteurs et éditeurs – ont reçu le 16 mai dernier un email les informant des changements à venir.   En effet, D2D et les autres distributeurs ne seront désormais plus à même de distribuer tout nouvel ouvrage sur Google Play. Ils pourront néanmoins continuer de s’occuper des ebooks déjà disponibles sur la boutique. D2D informe ses clients des négociations en cours avec Google afin de trouver une solution permettant la continuité de leurs rapports commerciaux. L’entreprise encourage aussi ses clients à contacter directement Google.        Source : the Digital Reader […]

Episode 269 – The Royalties Estimator, Creative Rapid Releasing, and Multitasking | Sell More Books Show May 29, 2019 um 7:02 am

[…] News #5: Not Playing Around News #4: Not Short, But Certainly Sweet News #3: Taylor Made News #2: Kindle Guesstimator News #1: Sinning Her Way To Success […]

Write a Comment