Sunday, March 01, 2009


I hope none of the other ladies get mad at me and I may be the only voice of decent, but I welcome google putting up previews of my books. I wouldn't mind if google put up all of my books in their entirety. In fact, if you go to my website you can read all of one of my earlier works - SHOW DOG - from beginning to end. I hope to be able to get up the rest of my books (with my publisher's permission of course - Random House already said "yes.") This is a time consuming process so heck, if someone else wants to do it for me then more power to them!

Why is this that I don't mind? Because I consider it free advertising. Who the heck would buy one of my books without being able to read it first? If you go into a bookstore you would read it or at least flip through it and with the new flood of online sales I don't want to miss an opportunity because the buyer is in doubt because he/she didn't see my book at the bookstore and can only look at the cover.

Do I think I should get royalties on my books that google puts up? No. Who on earth would sit in front of their computer to have story hour with their child? And I don't get royalties when someone checks out my books from the library either and I consider it the same sort of thing.

HOWEVER - I am talking about picture books. Adults and/or teens may very well try to sit down and read part of a novel... and if they're crazy maybe the whole thing... on their computer. There are already devices to do this! So if I were a novelist and I found out that more than a chapter of my book was on google then I would want some royalties. I still think a chapter or two of a novel can only help a novelist and I think that it's rare to find a whole book on google but those few authors who discover that their whole book is up there should get what they deserve. As a picture book author I'm not going to put myself in the same class. If Libby's book, for example, does end up on google then yeah, I'd urge her to get some cash out of the deal. That's why I’m glad she posted and why she's going through the process to fill out the necessary forms in the event that google does scan her book. I, however, will not bother. I only wish that google would make my art look not so crappy! Blah. They did a bad scan job.



Libby Koponen said...

Meghan! I didn't think about the novel/picture book difference and I'm glad you pointed it out.

I also had the entire book of BLOW OUT THE MOON on the Web (for free, of course) and quite a few people did read the whole thing. They emailed me about it. I'm glad they did!

L, B asked me to take it down when the book was published and I think this was fair, too: they were spending a lot of their money to publish that book. Why I would want to get some $ if Google scanned my whole book (which they probably won't) is that OTHER people will be making money from it -- Google -- so it seems unfair for me not to be one of those people. Other authors may feel differently.

I like the English custom of libraries paying royalties to living authors by charging readers a penny or two per day, then passing that on to the author. I would HAPPILY pay that if I lived there and I'd be glad that I was doing something to support authors I me it seems like a brilliant system because a few pennies is nothing to the readers but would mean a lot to the authors -- even if it only added up to a pound or two a year still you'd know people liked your book enough to take it out of the library.

I'm really glad you posted about this! It made me think about it more.


Christine Tripp said...

I like the English custom of libraries paying royalties to living authors by charging readers a penny or two per day, then passing that on to the author.

We have a similar set up in Canada. Two seperate groups, one called "Access Copyright" the other "Public Lending Rights Commission".
Authors and (in the case of pic books) Illustrators recieve their share of cheques, each year, from these agencies, to reflect library borrowing, various photocopying of the books, etc.
An Illustrator may get, if they registered 2 books (they must be trade) $800.00 or so, with the author getting the same, a year.
It's not a lot of money, but it's nice when it just falls from the sky like that.

To the subject of putting pic books on the web. There seemed to be a lot of publishers participating in "lookybook" and allowing books in full to be read on that site.
Is that much different then google?

Meghan McCarthy said...

Hmm. I forgot google makes money off of this stuff. that is unfair.

Anonymous said...

My concern is about the rights of the writers, illustrators, and publishers. They should be able to choose whether or not they want their work available for free, in digital format, text, video, etc. With time, we'll see whether it's a good idea to give things away or if we should always charge up-front. But the owners of the work should have that choice.

My personal prediction is that book publishing will follow similar patterns to software and music. Some books will be given away for free in order to generate sales for something else. Some books will be vehicles for advertising. Others will have a "try before you buy" model.

A few things are for certain, I think.

1) As with all major disruptive technologies, change happens slower than anticipated, but effects us more deeply than we could originally imagine.

2) People and companies who adapt quickly will benefit from the changes while others will resist and, well, you know what happens when one swims against the current.

3) The need and compensation for quality writing, artwork, editing, and publishing in this new environment will grow simply because of the possibilities created by the new technology.