Episode 107 – More Scams, Book Titles, and the Kindle Oasis

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Question of the Week: Would you want Google Books to scan your books and index the contents for online search? Why or why not?

With Bryan in a particularly punchy mood, he and Jim dug deep into the latest in self-publishing news. After thanking their favorite patron Spider McGee (and his book Monkey Justice http://bit.ly/secretjim ), they discussed tips related to choosing your book title, pre-orders, and indie accounting methods. The news stories included David Gaughran’s crusade against shady sponsorships, Kobo’s intriguing reader study, the Google Books U.S. Supreme Court decision, the Kindle Oasis, the Smashwords Survey of 2016, and a scam that’s taking over the free charts. This week’s Question of the Week: Would you want Google Books to scan your books and index the contents for online search? Why or why not?
What You’ll Learn:
  • How to get buy-two-get-one-free descriptions from Bryan
  • The four factors to consider when titling your book
  • Why you should consider pre-orders for your book
  • Software programs you can use to keep track of your accounting
  • Why book fairs should think twice before accepting just any sponsor
  • What the target demo for your book may actually be
  • Why Jim and Bryan disagree about the Google Books Supreme Court decision
  • How Amazon’s Kindle Oasis may impact the market
  • What info you should glean from the Smashwords 2016 Survey
  • What Amazon should do to stop the latest ebook scam
Question of the Week: Would you want Google Books to scan your books and index the contents for online search? Why or why not?

get show updates

  • Lavie Margolin

    100%. The more the most powerful search engine in the world gets my content out there, the better.

    • Bryan

      Here here.

  • jamiearpinricci

    If I understand correctly, the only way a book will be indexed by Google Books is if it has an ISBN, and thus is subject to a pre-existing searchability. Therefore, given that the author (either directly or through the proxy of a publisher) chooses to index the book through this system, it is already subject to online indexing. In Jim’s hypothetical, the author can choose to NOT use an ISBN and therefore not be subject to indexing by Google Books.

    • jamiearpinricci

      That said, I am not opposed to Google Books doing this with proper accountability and governance (which is where it can get tricky).

    • Bryan

      If you use a service like CreateSpace, you get a free ISBN in the paperback edition.

      • jamiearpinricci

        Totally, I get that. My point is only that by choosing to use an ISBN, you’ve submitted to public indexing on some level.

  • Spider McGee

    “You could be like Spider McGee.”

    I wouldn’t wish that on anyone.

    • Bryan

      I think Jim just wishes he had your name!

      • Spider McGee

        Tell him to make me an offer. Jim gets the name and next week I republish all my stuff under the name Slippy McPhee.

  • Jonathan Westwood

    Google has proven very adept at building a huge business on the back of other people’s intellectual property. My book is my book and it is up to me how to market it. Google has no right to copy books that are in copyright and whose authors have not given permission. If Google wants to license my work – ie pay for the right to copy it – then I’m happy to consider their request. If Google wants to steal my work, then I’m equally surprised and disappointed that the courts are not prepared to enforce the law of the land.

    • Bryan

      You and Jim are in agreement, Jonathan.

  • More discoverability? Yes, of course! In fact, can I submit my books?

    As I understand it, Google won’t make the entire book free, so it’s like a searchable preview to me. And anyway, if someone doesn’t want to pay for a book, they’ll probably just pirate it, so what Google is doing doesn’t worry me at all.

    • Bryan


  • Kirsten Oliphant

    While Google’s at it, I’d love for it to do full body scans. I mean, why not? They’re scanning e’rybody up in here. Hide your kids, hide your wife.

    But seriously, I’m torn on this one. Discoverability, great. IF IT ACTUALLY WORKS LIKE THAT. I think I just don’t like the audacity of Google, scanning all the things. Even if they aren’t showing them in full. They’re not showing them in full NOW. But in ten years when we’re living in a Orwellian Google-ruled world, who’s to say what they’ll do with my books they’ve scanned?

    • Eddie Jakes

      I totally read that in that guys voice, lol!

      • Spider McGee

        I read it in the “Ain’t nobody got time for that” lady’s voice. I like to shake things up.

    • Bryan

      “The Audacity of Google” by Kiki Olphant.

  • Spider McGee

    I wouldn’t mind Google indexing my titles, if that meant anything. I don’t think it would do anything to help sales irregardless. Even when they do index a book, they don’t print the whole thing unless it’s in the public domain. You’d probably get to see a lot more of the title from a downloadable Kindle sample.

    If there is so much stuff out there you literally can’t get people interested in a free book, then what’s the point. Self-publishing is so easy now that every thick-fingered galoot with Microsoft Word thinks he’s going to be a rich and famous author. Thus, the e-book marketplace is now full of people who should never, ever be allowed to put words to paper. You know…people like me.

    Of course this is all off-topic and missing the point. That’s because I don’t like to play by the rules and I don’t listen to what people say. What was all this about, again?

    • Bryan

      Something about brain scanning and holographs.

  • Eddie Jakes

    I was thinking a lot about the Google scanning project. The first guy reaction is to scream, “NO! MINE!” but after thinking about the tons of books I skimmed through during college using similar online resource. I must have bought at least two or three books personally because I really enjoyed the content I was seeing. I can see pluses in having a resource like this on Google. As long as there is a path to opt-out, however. I do think Jim has a good point.

    • Bryan

      For research, it’s awesome.

  • QOTW – Yes. Hopefully it will keep crazy peoples’ manifestos out of the libraries. Now if we can just keep the crazy people, themselves, out.

    As for my own usage, I use the google indexed books to find books for my non-fiction research. It’s hard to know what’s in a book, but if you can search terms and phrases, it helps me to know if I even want to read more or even buy the book. I did buy one once because of this, but it wasn’t any of yours.

    • Bryan

      Crazy people are allowed to read too! 😉

      • For now…

        Let’s see how these elections go. 😉

  • Gilbert David Leon

    I kind of agree with Google scanning books and showing parts of it. We all use Google for exact the same thing every day. I assume the Supreme Court used the the fair use logic to determine it. And with regards to offline vs online – I’m glad courts start finally ruling that the same rules apply to both.

  • I can see how having your book indexed and searchable can help the discoverability of non-fiction. Fiction not so much.

    I’m otherwise not that concerned about it so long as the system remains limited to small teaser portions of the overall work. What I worry about is either Google opening it up or some third party site figuring out a way of reconstructing the book through somekind of targeted search algorithm. You know someone’s going to try if only for the challenge.

  • Robin Lyons

    I understood Jim’s argument against the Google scan decision. If the purpose of Google scanning portions of books is discoverability, then it isn’t applicable for Jim’s book. Since his book was not on the Internet, there wouldn’t be a book to discover.

  • Ethan Jones

    Having Google Books scan my books and index the contents for online search is great. The benefits include increased exposure, which can be translated as greater readership, and searchability.
    Thanks for the great shows, guys. Learning so much every time.
    Have a blessed rest of the week and looking forward to the next episode,

  • Thomas Diehl

    Hey guys, I thought you might be interested in an update on the whole fixed book pricing laws thing in Germany that can become a problem when translating books into German. The federal government just passed some changes there and they’re some interesting ones.
    For starters it now explicitly includes ebooks. In the past it was unclear wether the wording of the law includes ebooks, or only paperbooks.
    However, and here’s where it gets interesting, the law also explicitly mentions selfpublishers as exempt from this rule (as well as libraries and other lending services). Yup, the legacy publishers just lobbied themselves into a a serious disadvantage against selfpublishers. My, what a beautiful piece of mahogany!
    An article (in German) about this: http://www.e-book-news.de/bundestag-aendert-preisbindunggesetz-ebooks-explizit-erfasst-self-publisher-ausgenommen/

    • Bryan

      Wow. Now that is some malarkey. Thanks for the update.

  • avoura

    If Google scans and indexes my books then it makes them more findable and searchable. But it is only good so long as no one gets the whole book content for free, but they must be able to get a result from the book when searching Google for a relevant phrase. This is probably something that would be more useful though in regards to non-fiction books as well as great classics where people remember a phrase from a book but need to look it up to find it again.
    So I am not against Google scanning and indexing my books, although it has to be for search purposes only.

    • Bryan

      Yeah. I think this has a major benefit for non-fiction for sure.