Thursday, August 20, 2009

Putting One Foot in Front of the Other: More on the Google Book Settlement

If you are sitting there stunned and wondering how to tackle this Google Book Settlement thing, I have some good first steps for you.

  1. Go to the settlement site.
  2. Do yourself a big favor and don't scare yourself silly by downloading the PDF versions of the forms that are used to claim your company's part of the settlement. Instead, go ahead and set up an account for your publisher by clicking the "claim books and inserts" button. It's pretty simple to do, but it takes Google several hours to activate your account.
  3. Next, search for your company's name in the database. You'll then get an option to download all of your titles as a spreadsheet (and it's a WHALE of a spreadsheet). As it turns out, we had many more books in there than I was able to spot from the outside (more than 800!).
  4. Find the titles that have a "yes" in the column marked "Digitation Status...." As it turns out, only 60 of our books have been digitized, and a good percentage of those are long out of print and their rights have been returned to the authors.
  5. Resave the spreadsheet with a different name and delete all the "no" books.
  6. To get an idea of how involved the claiming and registration process is, I selected one of our "yes" books that is still in print and was written by a coworker. The settlement requires that you get author consent to set the different access levels, so I e-mailed him for his quick consent.
  7. Proceed to claim, register, and set access levels for the book. There are many options with radio buttons, but there are also semi-helpful links to explain each of them. For example, I was stopped dead in my tracks over the pricing option--set your price or let Google do it, using its secret price-optimization algorithm? My first impulse was the set the book at its retail price. But then I remembered all the backlash I'm reading about publishers that price their Kindle books at the same price as the actual book. I decided that maybe Google knows better than I what will help it sell. I think we'd be able to change that later if we needed to.
  8. I intend to send letters to the authors of the other 20 or so in-print titles that have been digitized and get their consent to set their access levels. At that point, I will be done with everything that absolutely must be done by January 5 in order to get our chunk of the settlement. Then I can go back at my leisure and claim our other in-print titles that have not been digitized.

It took me about 30 minutes to do the first title. I presume this will be much faster on subsequent titles because now I (sorta) know what I'm doing. You can also upload a spreadsheet of all your titles and claim them that way, which is something I might also investigate doing.

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