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Authors' Forum => Writers' Cafe => Topic started by: FictionalWriter on June 09, 2014, 11:35:38 AM

Title: Why I had to delete my book from Google Play Books
Post by: FictionalWriter on June 09, 2014, 11:35:38 AM
Unbeknownst to me, of course, I discovered this morning that Google had listed my best earning historical romance for FREE. Yes free. They were paying me based on my list price of $5.18 but they have it free. Obviously, to me this wasn't about the money I was earning from those free sales but the ramifications this might have, especially if Amazon got ahold of that price.

The book came out in 2012 and it wasn't making me a ton a money, but it's still my bestselling historical novel right now. I emailed them this morning and BEGGED them to take it off sale and they politely told me that they have the right to price it however they want. They said they're sorry if it causes problems with other retailers but...too bad.

I promptly took it down from Google. Yes, maybe I would have left it up if Amazon would also pay me for FREE copies based on the price I listed with them but that's not the case.

I have a book coming out next month, and unfortunately, I don't think I'll be listing it with Google. I can't take the chance that they'll do this again with much worse results.

Title: Re: Why I had to delete my book from Google Play Books
Post by: Quiss on June 09, 2014, 11:44:01 AM
That's bad news if you don't want that price matched.

Did they say if the free promo was temporary? Did you get any sort of notice?
Title: Re: Why I had to delete my book from Google Play Books
Post by: FictionalWriter on June 09, 2014, 11:45:48 AM
I got NO notice and they wouldn't tell me how long it HAD been running or how long it WAS going to be running. They basically said we have the right to price it however we want.
Title: Re: Why I had to delete my book from Google Play Books
Post by: Lady Vine on June 09, 2014, 11:53:46 AM
Not a good move at all, and certainly not the type of thing you do if you ever want to be taken seriously in ebook distribution. It is definitely worth letting them know that until they stop arbitrarily discounting your books you won't re-list with them. It's a bit of a cheek, considering their market share is so small and, for most, insignificant. 
Title: Re: Why I had to delete my book from Google Play Books
Post by: CristinaRayne on June 09, 2014, 12:05:19 PM
Wow, I had no idea they would discount a book so drastically. I'll definitely keep a closer eye on my prices from now on. Thanks for the heads up! :)
Title: Re: Why I had to delete my book from Google Play Books
Post by: Quiss on June 09, 2014, 12:10:40 PM
Not a good move at all, and certainly not the type of thing you do if you ever want to be taken seriously in ebook distribution. It is definitely worth letting them know that until they stop arbitrarily discounting your books you won't re-list with them. It's a bit of a cheek, considering their market share is so small and, for most, insignificant.

Agreed. Seems a bit heavy handed. Surely they're aware of Amazon's policy regarding price and their market share.
Do they really think Amazon authors would go along with this?
Title: Re: Why I had to delete my book from Google Play Books
Post by: MariePinkerton on June 09, 2014, 12:35:03 PM
Agreed. Seems a bit heavy handed. Surely they're aware of Amazon's policy regarding price and their market share.
Do they really think Amazon authors would go along with this?

You'd think the same with their auto-discount, too.  I've mentally crossed several publishers off of my "would I ever consider" list when I see that the publisher put the books up at $3.99 on Google Play and Amazon priced matched down to $3.03.
Title: Re: Why I had to delete my book from Google Play Books
Post by: AnyaWrites on June 09, 2014, 12:41:42 PM
Oh wow! That certainly makes me question putting my books on Google play. I haven't actually sold any books there so I was considering removing them anyways.
That's just horrible customer service too!
Title: Re: Why I had to delete my book from Google Play Books
Post by: K.B. on June 09, 2014, 12:44:08 PM
On one hand, that could be a great money making opportunity... If it didn't have the potential to sabotage your number one source for income.
Title: Re: Why I had to delete my book from Google Play Books
Post by: Just Browsing on June 09, 2014, 01:01:35 PM
That's ... insane.
Title: Re: Why I had to delete my book from Google Play Books
Post by: ricola on June 09, 2014, 01:07:03 PM
I'd have just monitored Amazon closely.  :)  Pulled it if they matched!
Title: Re: Why I had to delete my book from Google Play Books
Post by: Jana DeLeon on June 09, 2014, 01:11:04 PM
Things like this are why my husband/assistants first task every morning is to check the price of my books at every vendor.
Title: Re: Why I had to delete my book from Google Play Books
Post by: Bookslinger on June 09, 2014, 01:20:15 PM
Wow. Google just doesn't care apparently. I see more and more reasons to be wary of them.
Title: Re: Why I had to delete my book from Google Play Books
Post by: Victoria J on June 09, 2014, 01:24:32 PM
So, in other words, Google Play is still carrying on with this in 2014? I will not be using them to distribute and sell my books, AT ALL! This is nonsense!
Title: Re: Why I had to delete my book from Google Play Books
Post by: FictionalWriter on June 09, 2014, 01:40:33 PM
I'd have just monitored Amazon closely.  :)  Pulled it if they matched!

And by the time Amazon matched it, it would have been downloaded at least a 1000 times for free before the price went back to normal. Amazon isn't quick about changing prices. Especially when it comes to taking books off free.
Title: Re: Why I had to delete my book from Google Play Books
Post by: zanahart on June 09, 2014, 01:42:48 PM
Scratch one more thing off my to-do list!
Title: Re: Why I had to delete my book from Google Play Books
Post by: Leanne King on June 09, 2014, 01:47:56 PM
Things like this are why my husband/assistants first task every morning is to check the price of my books at every vendor.

Not wanting to do your husband or assistants out of a job, but you could just use http://luzme.com which does that for you (free) :)
Title: Re: Why I had to delete my book from Google Play Books
Post by: John Daulton on June 09, 2014, 01:51:32 PM
Yikes. That could be a train wreck. Imagine if they put all your books free, and Amazon price matched. And I don't imagine pulling it down happens immediately, does it?
Title: Re: Why I had to delete my book from Google Play Books
Post by: m.a. petterson on June 09, 2014, 01:52:08 PM
Send a link to this thread to Google Play. If they ever do that to one of my priced books I'm outta there.
Title: Re: Why I had to delete my book from Google Play Books
Post by: Lummox JR on June 09, 2014, 02:00:59 PM
If they're going to change the price on you, you deserve ample written notice to either opt out or delist your book, because of price-matching policies and any obligations you might have with other distributors. This is boneheaded to the extreme.

Google Play can't be trusted as a distributor if they're going to act like this.
Title: Re: Why I had to delete my book from Google Play Books
Post by: Colin on June 09, 2014, 02:06:48 PM
If they're going to change the price on you, you deserve ample written notice to either opt out or delist your book, because of price-matching policies and any obligations you might have with other distributors. This is boneheaded to the extreme.

Google Play can't be trusted as a distributor if they're going to act like this.

Absolutely this!
Title: Re: Why I had to delete my book from Google Play Books
Post by: Betsy the Quilter on June 09, 2014, 02:09:03 PM
It must be in their ToS that they can do this...or they couldn't do this, right?

Betsy
Title: Re: Why I had to delete my book from Google Play Books
Post by: ChristinePope on June 09, 2014, 02:13:13 PM
Scratch one more thing off my to-do list!

Seriously!  :o
Title: Re: Why I had to delete my book from Google Play Books
Post by: FictionalWriter on June 09, 2014, 02:17:32 PM
It must be in their ToS that they can do this...or they couldn't do this, right?

Betsy

They can do this per their ToS because they are paying you based on list price.
Title: Re: Why I had to delete my book from Google Play Books
Post by: Jana DeLeon on June 09, 2014, 02:20:42 PM
Not wanting to do your husband or assistants out of a job, but you could just use http://luzme.com which does that for you (free) :)
I know, but I'm a control freak who doesn't trust technology. :)
Title: Re: Why I had to delete my book from Google Play Books
Post by: Stacy Claflin on June 09, 2014, 02:26:53 PM
First they make the process of getting our books on their a total pain (I always wait a couple days after release because I don't want to deal with it) and then they make it challenging to get your book at the right price (thank goodness for the thread here spelling it out) and now this? I'm going to keep a close eye on my books from here on out.

I can't imagine them keeping indies for long if they keep these business practices.
Title: Re: Why I had to delete my book from Google Play Books
Post by: Mercia McMahon on June 09, 2014, 02:29:22 PM
It must be in their ToS that they can do this...or they couldn't do this, right?

Of course it is in the TOS just as it is in the KDP TOS so that price-matching can take place. Place the blame correctly here - Google is doing on discounting while paying list what any retailer will do, the fly in the ointment is Amazon price-matching, not Google discounting. Roll on the day when the rest of the world catches up with the EU and makes price-matching illegal.
Title: Re: Why I had to delete my book from Google Play Books
Post by: Ann in Arlington on June 09, 2014, 02:38:17 PM
Of course it is in the TOS just as it is in the KDP TOS so that price-matching can take place. Place the blame correctly here - Google is doing on discounting while paying list what any retailer will do, the fly in the ointment is Amazon price-matching, not Google discounting. Roll on the day when the rest of the world catches up with the EU and makes price-matching illegal.

Seems to me that 'price matching' happens all the time -- and I'm not talking about books.  I am always seeing adverts that say that if you find a lower price advertised elsewhere a store will match it. A while back I bought a printer from Best Buy at a discounted price because I could show them I could get it cheaper at Amazon.  They matched the price.

If a company feels it can absorb the loss, why shouldn't they adjust their prices so that they're competitive in order to try to keep their customers.  Sounds like standard operating procedure to me.
Title: Re: Why I had to delete my book from Google Play Books
Post by: Quiss on June 09, 2014, 02:48:01 PM
I think we mustn't confuse price-matching with price-fixing.

But it is a good point there in that it's Amazon's policies that are restrictive, not Google's.
Google is running promotions at no cost to the author. Should they care what Amazon thinks of that? Probably not. I suppose it's up to us to decide who we want to deal with, if we can't have it both ways.
Title: Re: Why I had to delete my book from Google Play Books
Post by: Chrisbwritin on June 09, 2014, 02:53:13 PM
And by the time Amazon matched it, it would have been downloaded at least a 1000 times for free before the price went back to normal. Amazon isn't quick about changing prices. Especially when it comes to taking books off free.
This. I pulled a book from Google Play for something similar (they'd discounted a book to 2.51. I didn't realized Amazon had price matched it, I had thought Amazon was just running a sale on that book. It cost me over $400 by the time I got it all untangled because of the drop from 70% to 35% rate so I was feeling pretty crummy about the whole thing. Live and learn. Sorry this happened to you, though. I think you did the right thing, FWIW.
Title: Re: Why I had to delete my book from Google Play Books
Post by: K.B. on June 09, 2014, 02:57:58 PM
This. I pulled a book from Google Play for something similar (they'd discounted a book to 2.51. I didn't realized Amazon had price matched it, I had thought Amazon was just running a sale on that book. It cost me over $400 by the time I got it all untangled because of the drop from 70% to 35% rate so I was feeling pretty crummy about the whole thing. Live and learn. Sorry this happened to you, though. I think you did the right thing, FWIW.

If it wasn't for Indie's abilities to screw over Amazon so easily in the following scenario, then I think it'd be a great system. Not accounting for retailers pricing work for free;

It would be an awesome little world if Amazon price matched but let you keep the same royalty rate. Again, that would be so easily abused it's not even a possibility.
Title: Re: Why I had to delete my book from Google Play Books
Post by: jnfr on June 09, 2014, 02:58:19 PM
Seems to me that 'price matching' happens all the time -- and I'm not talking about books.  I am always seeing adverts that say that if you find a lower price advertised elsewhere a store will match it. A while back I bought a printer from Best Buy at a discounted price because I could show them I could get it cheaper at Amazon.  They matched the price.

If a company feels it can absorb the loss, why shouldn't they adjust their prices so that they're competitive in order to try to keep their customers.  Sounds like standard operating procedure to me.

The difference I see here is that Amazon doesn't pay you full price if they decide to price-match. In the case of a TV or whatever, they still pay the wholesale price for the thing and then sell at a discount if they want. That's what Google is doing, and that's a normal way of retailing items. But Amazon, for ebooks at least, not only discounts their selling price, they discount what gets paid to you too.
Title: Re: Why I had to delete my book from Google Play Books
Post by: Mercia McMahon on June 09, 2014, 03:00:26 PM
Seems to me that 'price matching' happens all the time -- and I'm not talking about books.  I am always seeing adverts that say that if you find a lower price advertised elsewhere a store will match it. A while back I bought a printer from Best Buy at a discounted price because I could show them I could get it cheaper at Amazon.  They matched the price.

If a company feels it can absorb the loss, why shouldn't they adjust their prices so that they're competitive in order to try to keep their customers.  Sounds like standard operating procedure to me.

Ann you are confusing price-matching (illegal) with competitive pricing e.g., I bought Kate Atkinson's Life After Life on special offer at 4.99 on Kobo to support them, knowing without looking that whatever Kobo discount among the big names Amazon will give a bigger discount. I had to check the book today on Amazon and yes its 2.50. That is perfectly legal. Amazon's price-matching is anti-competitive behaviour because it insists that Amazon always have the lowest price available from that supplier with a binding contract saying so. This constitutes near-monopoly distortion of the market. The main markets that Amazon have bowed to the inevitable on are the UK and Germany so no, L.R. Panda, this is not about the structurally weak southern European economies. It is about Amazon facing a crippling fine of the level once faced by their neighbours Microsoft over web browsers. In Europe we stand up to corporate bullies and I suspect that the European Competition Commission's interest in Amazon vs Hachette is more worrying for the French than the Seattleites.
Title: Re: Why I had to delete my book from Google Play Books
Post by: FictionalWriter on June 09, 2014, 03:03:39 PM
It's frustrating because WE (the authors) have NO control of our pricing. Yes, it's great that Google will give your book for free and STILL PAY you. Amazon won't and they have 60-65% of the ebook market so if you go free with them when you don't want to, you're ROYALLY screwed. When I give my book away for free it's strategic marketing. When Google does, I'm hosed.
Title: Re: Why I had to delete my book from Google Play Books
Post by: Lady Vine on June 09, 2014, 03:05:07 PM
I think we mustn't confuse price-matching with price-fixing.

But it is a good point there in that it's Amazon's policies that are restrictive, not Google's.
Google is running promotions at no cost to the author. Should they care what Amazon thinks of that? Probably not. I suppose it's up to us to decide who we want to deal with, if we can't have it both ways.


I mean, that's the problem, isn't it? Without Amazon's price-matching this would be a great deal, for author and reader. To pull something like this off, however, Google would need to be a much more formidable force in the market, so that authors could temporarily remove their books from Amazon while the sale is on.

Amazon doesn't price-match immediately though, so that's something at least. I already check my Play books daily, so I'll catch something like this before it does any damage. I suggest you all do the same.
Title: Re: Why I had to delete my book from Google Play Books
Post by: Betsy the Quilter on June 09, 2014, 03:10:51 PM
Reminder not to make this a political discussion, thanks.

Betsy
KB Mod
Title: Re: Why I had to delete my book from Google Play Books
Post by: Lummox JR on June 09, 2014, 03:19:57 PM
Indeed I think the main problem here is Amazon's method of price-matching in which your payment is tied to their price--but that's not likely to ever change, because there are too many ways for Amazon to lose in that scenario. Since this is more or less set in stone, and Amazon is ginormous, another distributor failing to plan around this fact is nothing short of stupid.

Obviously a company can do anything they like short of violating their own agreements, but I'm talking about simple courtesy and being a good business partner. There's no good reason to do business with someone who could choose to discount your book, without warning, in a way that suddenly hurts your pricing in your biggest market. Amazon is likely to always be our biggest market, at least for the foreseeable future. Ergo anything another distributor does without warning that knowingly triggers an Amazon price-match is a financial liability. Every ebook distributor has to be aware of Amazon's policy, inasmuch as they're the biggest game in town; if they want to grow their own piece of the pie it is unconscionable to do anything that jeopardizes an author's earnings on Amazon. Google's behavior is the sort that will drive authors away from them, harming their own ability to compete with Amazon. Way to shoot yourself in the foot, Google!
Title: Re: Why I had to delete my book from Google Play Books
Post by: Mark E. Cooper on June 09, 2014, 03:21:38 PM
Not wanting to do your husband or assistants out of a job, but you could just use http://luzme.com which does that for you (free) :)

You can't rely upon luzme. It displays inaccurate prices and incidentally it can give you a heart attack or stroke! I just tried it, and I know my prices are correct. I check every few days. Luzme says all my books are priced wrong when I know none are.
Title: Re: Why I had to delete my book from Google Play Books
Post by: Jana DeLeon on June 09, 2014, 03:33:21 PM
You can't rely upon luzme. It displays inaccurate prices and incidentally it can give you a heart attack or stroke! I just tried it, and I know my prices are correct. I check every few days. Luzme says all my books are priced wrong when I know none are.
It has several of my prices wrong right now and doesn't list all the sales channels. That's what I meant by not trusting technology. If I relied on luzme and it didn't update for a couple of days, I could lose thousands getting it all fixed.
Title: Re: Why I had to delete my book from Google Play Books
Post by: CraigInOregon on June 09, 2014, 03:46:15 PM
...It's a bit of a cheek, considering their market share is so small and, for most, insignificant.

You can't be serious.

Right now, Google Play Books is my second-best-selling market behind Amazon. Kobo is third. Apple is fourth, though I get there via Smashwords. Nook is almost nonexistent.

Sure, Google isn't to Amazon's size yet... but they are a decently-sized second place, and seem to have taken over that spot where Nook was maybe... two years ago?
Title: Re: Why I had to delete my book from Google Play Books
Post by: cinisajoy on June 09, 2014, 03:47:07 PM
Question.  When YOU publish YOUR books at wherever dot com,  do YOU say that YOU agree to THEIR terms of service?

If the answer to this question is yes,  then you cannot blame anyone because you agreed to their policies.

And as far as price matching: in the US, it is legal for stores to match or not match their competitors prices.    It is an excellent business practice. 
Are some of you saying that in Europe,  two different stores cannot have the same price.

Now price gouging is illegal.  That is artificially inflating the price.

Title: Re: Why I had to delete my book from Google Play Books
Post by: CraigInOregon on June 09, 2014, 03:54:29 PM
It must be in their ToS that they can do this...or they couldn't do this, right?

Betsy

It IS in their TOS. It's also in every TOS I've ever seen, including Kobo, Nook, Amazon, and even Smashwords (though they have led the fight to give indies 'agency pricing.').

But here's the weird bit:

We all know Amazon reserves the right to discount, and they use it. No one seems to have a problem with that.

But if Google or Nook or Kobo exercise that discounting right, which is in their TOS, we all freak out and pull our books and say, "I can't believe they have the nerve to do that!"

And I understand the main reason why: Amazon sells SO much more and is a primary income source for many of us.

I get it. I do.

However... so many people who object to this sort of discounting also voice support for "competition" and wish for a world where it's not an "Amazon-only" game, in terms of ePublishing.

But how can it ever be anything BUT an "Amazon-only game," if all other retailers have to restrict themselves from discounting books based on how their decision affects Amazon?

I mean... at least Google's paying you for free book sales, when they discount your book to free.

Support for competition only so long as they don't ACT as a competitor is... a bit double-minded, I'd suggest.
Title: Re: Why I had to delete my book from Google Play Books
Post by: CraigInOregon on June 09, 2014, 04:03:34 PM
It's frustrating because WE (the authors) have NO control of our pricing. Yes, it's great that Google will give your book for free and STILL PAY you. Amazon won't and they have 60-65% of the ebook market so if you go free with them when you don't want to, you're ROYALLY screwed. When I give my book away for free it's strategic marketing. When Google does, I'm hosed.

So... you're arguing in favor of what Hachette and the rest of the Big 5 are fighting over. No discounting, total control over prices, paid the same regardless of price.

You've just formed the argument for Agency Pricing, aka illegal price fixing, which Apple and the Big 5 were convicted of and fined millions for, just a couple years ago.

Just so you know. :)
Title: Re: Why I had to delete my book from Google Play Books
Post by: FictionalWriter on June 09, 2014, 04:07:53 PM
I will ALWAYS complain when there's a chance I can make absolutely NOTHING on a book I don't INTEND to give away for free. If that's what you mean, then yes. I work hard. I want to be paid for my work.
Title: Re: Why I had to delete my book from Google Play Books
Post by: Jana DeLeon on June 09, 2014, 04:29:15 PM
But how can it ever be anything BUT an "Amazon-only game," if all other retailers have to restrict themselves from discounting books based on how their decision affects Amazon?

It's not at all about how their decision affects Amazon. It's about how their decision affects their suppliers (ie. authors).

I mean... at least Google's paying you for free book sales, when they discount your book to free.

Support for competition only so long as they don't ACT as a competitor is... a bit double-minded, I'd suggest.

And therein lies the rub for authors. Amazon does NOT pay you royalty based on your set price when they price-match. If they did, then we'd have no issue. But no, I do not wish for any vendor to arbitrarily change the price on my books. I know better than them the timing and selection to better my career. And bettering my career means they sell more books, so it's a win-win, and they don't have to lift a finger.
Title: Re: Why I had to delete my book from Google Play Books
Post by: Jan Strnad on June 09, 2014, 04:32:22 PM
It's interesting that indies are now complaining about Google's doing what Amazon was doing to trad publishers: Discounting a book against the wishes of the publisher and paying a royalty on the full listed price.

Which I would have no problem with, except that it kicks in Amazon's price-matching and Amazon does NOT pay the full royalty on the book.

I have a sale scheduled later this month that includes Google, but then I think I have to pull my books. I can't risk having my books suddenly go free against my wishes.
Title: Re: Why I had to delete my book from Google Play Books
Post by: Jana DeLeon on June 09, 2014, 04:42:29 PM
It's interesting that indies are now complaining about Google's doing what Amazon was doing to trad publishers: Discounting a book against the wishes of the publisher and paying a royalty on the full listed price.

The difference being that publishers didn't lose revenue. Indies do.
Title: Re: Why I had to delete my book from Google Play Books
Post by: nobody_important on June 09, 2014, 05:00:51 PM
You'd think the same with their auto-discount, too.  I've mentally crossed several publishers off of my "would I ever consider" list when I see that the publisher put the books up at $3.99 on Google Play and Amazon priced matched down to $3.03.
Um. You know it's OK if it's a publisher, right? Their distribution agreement is nothing like KDP.
Title: Re: Why I had to delete my book from Google Play Books
Post by: Quiss on June 09, 2014, 05:04:38 PM
I suppose it doesn't really matter what Google should do or shouldn't or whose policy impacts what.
This isn't a question like whether or not to stay in Select or go wide. If Google's discounting decisions don't mesh with Amazon's we have a choice to make. I only have to look at my spreadsheet to see what choice is best for me. Neither vendor owes us a living.
Title: Re: Why I had to delete my book from Google Play Books
Post by: nobody_important on June 09, 2014, 05:07:42 PM
So... you're arguing in favor of what Hachette and the rest of the Big 5 are fighting over. No discounting, total control over prices, paid the same regardless of price.

You've just formed the argument for Agency Pricing, aka illegal price fixing, which Apple and the Big 5 were convicted of and fined millions for, just a couple years ago.

Just so you know. :)

Just so you know...agency pricing is NOT ILLEGAL.

What's illegal is the COLLUSION.

Get your fact straight before accuse another member of doing ILLEGAL PRICE FIXING.
Title: Re: Why I had to delete my book from Google Play Books
Post by: Betsy the Quilter on June 09, 2014, 05:10:11 PM
OK, nobody_important, no member was accused of illegal price fixing. I don't read Craig's post that way. Let's keep it civil, please.

Betsy

Title: Re: Why I had to delete my book from Google Play Books
Post by: K.B. on June 09, 2014, 05:11:34 PM
So... you're arguing in favor of what Hachette and the rest of the Big 5 are fighting over. No discounting, total control over prices, paid the same regardless of price.

You've just formed the argument for Agency Pricing, aka illegal price fixing, which Apple and the Big 5 were convicted of and fined millions for, just a couple years ago.

Just so you know. :)

You're not as spot on as you think you are.

The difference, and it's huge, is that when Amazon discounts Trade books, the publishers still get paid the same amount no matter the price. I think it's wonderful that Google Books does the same for Indies, but there's a caveat. So this might be a problem on Amazon's end but as said upstream, it's not an easy policy to fix. The only real solution is for Amazon to offer across the board royalties and offer the full royalty for discounted ebooks, whether they were the one's who set it or if they price matched.
Title: Re: Why I had to delete my book from Google Play Books
Post by: Mercia McMahon on June 09, 2014, 05:28:32 PM
Question.  When YOU publish YOUR books at wherever dot com,  do YOU say that YOU agree to THEIR terms of service?

And as far as price matching: in the US, it is legal for stores to match or not match their competitors prices.   

In Europe it is the Terms of Service that are illegal in that the author has signed an agreement with KDP to never have anyone cheaper than Amazon and you will be threatened with your account being terminated at KDP for such a transgression, but in reality Amazon just arbitrarily reduce your list price to save you the bother. This means that the KDP contract requires you to give them (to coin a US phrase) favoured nation status to Seattle. This is highly illegal in the EU, and probably skirted the law in the US.

That basically means every author on kboards not in Select has the European Competition Commission fighting their corner. Amazon do their price-matching on the basis of the USD price so they are still breaking the law over most UK and German authors. Microsoft were fined 561,000,000 Euros (731,000,000 USD at the time) over the browser wars and one of the beneficiaries of the ruling were our friends at Google.
Title: Re: Why I had to delete my book from Google Play Books
Post by: Mercia McMahon on June 09, 2014, 05:37:41 PM
Every ebook distributor has to be aware of Amazon's policy, inasmuch as they're the biggest game in town; if they want to grow their own piece of the pie it is unconscionable to do anything that jeopardizes an author's earnings on Amazon. Google's behavior is the sort that will drive authors away from them, harming their own ability to compete with Amazon. Way to shoot yourself in the foot, Google!

Well done, go to the head of the class, you have chanced on the real purpose of Google discounting. This is about forcing authors to quit Google out of fear of Amazon. Those going back into Select are an irrelevancy to them, Google legal want evidence that their profits are being harmed by restrictive practices at Amazon. Remember that Amazon might be the behemoth of publishing, but as a company they are a moth compared to Google. The company that owns Chrome and agitated for European action against Microsoft (although the case was brought by Opera). So this thread is exactly what they want to read. If the OP followed the suggestion to send this thread link to Google you can guarantee that if it is not already in the legal department it soon will be.
Title: Re: Why I had to delete my book from Google Play Books
Post by: Okey Dokey on June 09, 2014, 06:36:11 PM
Perhaps the problem is that Amazon does not buy our product. We just Amazon the right to sell it at whatever price Amazon sets.

Other retail businesses are different. If Macy's wants a new line of dresses, it pays a wholesale price. If Macy's has a sale, the producer has already made its money, which was not based on the selling price.

In other words, we should be getting 70% as the wholesale price for our products, regardless of what the Amazon's discounted price is.

But we're not operating in the business of contracts. We live and die by Terms of Service that can change on the whim of one party and at any time AFTER we give them the right to sell our products.

Thanks for the lowdown on Google. It's a snake in the Garden of Eden
Title: Re: Why I had to delete my book from Google Play Books
Post by: cinisajoy on June 09, 2014, 07:01:06 PM
Here is the thing. Amazon is more like a flea market than a retailer for most self publishers.

No I have not lost my mind.
You are a vendor.   You are using Amazon to sell your product.  Here is where the flea market comes in.
At a flea market, you pay a set price for your space.  At Amazon, you pay a percentage of what you sell.  Either way, you pay for your space.  Now to continue.  Flea Market is the draw not Fred's stuff.  Amazon is the draw not Craig's burn dinner books. 
People go to flea markets/Amazon to look for stuff.  If they find and like your stuff great.
Flea markets have contracts as does Amazon.
Would you sell as much from your front porch or your own website?
And remember y'all signed the contracts.
Title: Re: Why I had to delete my book from Google Play Books
Post by: Lummox JR on June 09, 2014, 07:05:09 PM
Well done, go to the head of the class, you have chanced on the real purpose of Google discounting. This is about forcing authors to quit Google out of fear of Amazon. Those going back into Select are an irrelevancy to them, Google legal want evidence that their profits are being harmed by restrictive practices at Amazon. Remember that Amazon might be the behemoth of publishing, but as a company they are a moth compared to Google. The company that owns Chrome and agitated for European action against Microsoft (although the case was brought by Opera). So this thread is exactly what they want to read. If the OP followed the suggestion to send this thread link to Google you can guarantee that if it is not already in the legal department it soon will be.

I don't see how Google would have a case, though. If I had books in Google Play, I'd be quitting them right now not out of fear of Amazon, but because Google is either completely or willfully blind to my needs. Google would have no problems doing this kind of thing for authors enrolled in an exclusive program, like KDP Select. But if Google makes one of your books go free without telling you, you can lose out on all kinds of Amazon sales in the interim, without even being given notice. Google knows Amazon matches price and that its royalties are a percentage model; hence they know by doing this they screw authors. Either they're making books free or discounted as part of a short-sighted play to grow their store at the expense of the long game (not inconceivable), or they're just outright malicious.
Title: Re: Why I had to delete my book from Google Play Books
Post by: nobody_important on June 09, 2014, 07:17:20 PM
Perhaps the problem is that Amazon does not buy our product. We just Amazon the right to sell it at whatever price Amazon sets.

Other retail businesses are different. If Macy's wants a new line of dresses, it pays a wholesale price. If Macy's has a sale, the producer has already made its money, which was not based on the selling price.

In other words, we should be getting 70% as the wholesale price for our products, regardless of what the Amazon's discounted price is.

But we're not operating in the business of contracts. We live and die by Terms of Service that can change on the whim of one party and at any time AFTER we give them the right to sell our products.

Thanks for the lowdown on Google. It's a snake in the Garden of Eden

Nobody gets 70% on wholesale. Makers usually get about 50% or less. Not even Harlequin gets more than 50%.

BTW -if you want to go through the hassle, then you can set up a publishing company and have a wholesale distribution contract with Amazon. And as a micro publisher, you're probably not going to get a better deal than Hachette or anybody else for that matter.
Title: Re: Why I had to delete my book from Google Play Books
Post by: J. Tanner on June 09, 2014, 07:33:26 PM
Too late now, but if I were you I just would have raised the price to something crazy. If they want to give it away without your permission and pay you anyway, they can pay you A LOT for the privilege.  ;D
Title: Re: Why I had to delete my book from Google Play Books
Post by: P.C. (Peter) Anders on June 09, 2014, 07:34:24 PM
Not wanting to do your husband or assistants out of a job, but you could just use http://luzme.com which does that for you (free) :)

Misses out many platforms for my books: in fact, it's very Apple-oriented.
Title: Re: Why I had to delete my book from Google Play Books
Post by: Jan Strnad on June 09, 2014, 08:07:00 PM
Too late now, but if I were you I just would have raised the price to something crazy. If they want to give it away without your permission and pay you anyway, they can pay you A LOT for the privilege.  ;D

Yeah, list your books for $1,000,000 with Google and let's see how quickly they put it out there for free! ;D
Title: Re: Why I had to delete my book from Google Play Books
Post by: olefish on June 09, 2014, 08:12:53 PM
If Amazon can discount willy-nilly, why can't Google?  And why should Google care about our revenues from Amazon? Sure it might be rude, and perhaps unwise of them, to ignore author wishes, but there are many authors with many disparate wishes ...
Even though most authors make the bulk of their sales from amazon, there are still many more who make almost nothing and so wouldn't mind Google giving them free money. I, for one, don't mind if Google discounts my book for free and still pays me my cut. And if I hate the discounting so much, I could jack up the price and make Google pay me more for the privilege of making my book free.  (You can always email amazon to revert the book back to paid once Google stops free-discounting the books)

Google is doing what it's best for them, not for any particular author, definitely not for Amazon. Everyone else should decide to do what's best for themselves.  Let's not tar Google for doing what Amazon does vagrantly.
Title: Re: Why I had to delete my book from Google Play Books
Post by: K.B. on June 09, 2014, 08:23:25 PM
I think there are quite a few people in this thread missing the point. Google is free to do whatever they want within the limits of their ToC and we have the right to b*tch about it and pull our books from their platform if it risks sales on Amazon -- otherwise known as the biggest game in town. Sorry. It's a business decision. If it happened to me, I'd be pretty ticked, not because Google is nec. in the wrong, but because the precedent wasn't there and hits out of the blue.
Title: Re: Why I had to delete my book from Google Play Books
Post by: Lummox JR on June 09, 2014, 09:22:56 PM
Too late now, but if I were you I just would have raised the price to something crazy. If they want to give it away without your permission and pay you anyway, they can pay you A LOT for the privilege.  ;D

I like the way you think, sir. :)
Title: Re: Why I had to delete my book from Google Play Books
Post by: Shelley K on June 09, 2014, 11:42:29 PM
I think there are quite a few people in this thread missing the point.

Yes.

1. When Google discounts and potentially costs an author dozens, hundreds, thousands of dollars in doing so, it's a problem.

2. All the retailers have TOS that allow them to change prices at will. If I'm unwilling to allow that, I can't sell books anywhere. Google appears to be the only one doing this kind of thing, though.

3. This is nothing like when Amazon discounts trade books. The publisher is paid the same, and no other retailer drops their prices and pays the publishers less. Very different situation.

4. Pointing out that too bad, it's in the TOS you agreed to, particularly when the people involved well know this, accomplishes what, exactly?

5. I've yet to hear about Amazon suddenly giving away someone's book and causing them to lose thousands at another retailer. If Google's doing it, it merits discussion. It's important to decide if the risk is worth the reward of selling there.

6. It's a big deal. Picture your $500 a day seller suddenly free on Google Play, and price-matched to free on Amazon. Even for a day or two, that could be devastating to something climbing the charts. Just taking it off the paid lists could be devastating and keep a book that was destined for the top from ever getting there. Minimizing the situation doesn't help.

7. Google's not going to change their policy, at least not until people leave in droves, which I doubt will happen. Finding ways to get around a potentially damaging discount are the best option aside from pulling books. (I don't sell there, because I don't want to be bothered with watching them like a hawk.)
Title: Re: Why I had to delete my book from Google Play Books
Post by: Becca Mills on June 09, 2014, 11:56:02 PM
I'm looking forward to the day this happens to someone, and they shrug and take the book off Amazon until GP puts the price back up.

Getting paid full royalties on a free book is a marvelous deal. I've never heard of the other retailers paying on a freebie. As GP grabs more market share, this practice could become one of its best features.

Title: Re: Why I had to delete my book from Google Play Books
Post by: K.B. on June 10, 2014, 12:05:41 AM
Maybe a certain illegitimate service could boost free downloads during an impromptu promotion....

KIDDING, people!
Title: Re: Why I had to delete my book from Google Play Books
Post by: Leanne King on June 10, 2014, 12:10:44 AM
You can't rely upon luzme. It displays inaccurate prices and incidentally it can give you a heart attack or stroke! I just tried it, and I know my prices are correct. I check every few days. Luzme says all my books are priced wrong when I know none are.

Interesting. I check Luzme against actual prices regularly (admittedly not every day, I'd have no time to write if I did that!), and it's always been spot on. The alerts work great too. I wonder why it's flaky for some.

Misses out many platforms for my books: in fact, it's very Apple-oriented.

It includes all the platforms in your signature (apart from Smashwords own store, which doesn't discount anyway), and Google Play as well. It also checks stores on a per-country basis.

Sounds like quite a few people aren't enamoured with Luzme. A gap in the market for a better price checking site? Opportunity for Jim Kukral perhaps?
Title: Re: Why I had to delete my book from Google Play Books
Post by: Becca Mills on June 10, 2014, 12:12:53 AM
Maybe a certain illegitimate service could boost free downloads during an impromptu promotion....

KIDDING, people!

Heh. Seriously. Once GP gets wind of the FBSs of the world, they'll probably put an end to this practice tout de suite.
Title: Re: Why I had to delete my book from Google Play Books
Post by: Shelley K on June 10, 2014, 12:17:37 AM
I'm looking forward to the day this happens to someone, and they shrug and take the book off Amazon until GP puts the price back up.

That's an option for a book that doesn't sell worth two squirts at Amazon. For one that sells, though, taking it off sale is practically book suicide.

Quote
Getting paid full royalties on a free book is a marvelous deal.

If the free downloads increase much, sure. I don't think they'll increase enough to offset losses at Amazon if it's price-matched (again, unless the book doesn't sell anyway).  I wonder if someone with a free book at Google Play would be willing to share download numbers? I'm guessing they're nothing like the Zon's.

Quote
I've never heard of the other retailers paying on a freebie. As GP grabs more market share, this practice could become one of its best features.

Amazon did pay full royalties at first, actually, usually because of price-matching. It may have been accidental, in fact, I'm not sure. Some people really raked it in when their free book was downloaded thousands of times, earning $2 a pop. They stopped doing that pretty quickly. I think if Google gets anywhere near as big as Amazon, and has nearly that many downloads, they'll stop it, too.
Title: Re: Why I had to delete my book from Google Play Books
Post by: Patty Jansen on June 10, 2014, 01:11:17 AM
I don't sell much on Amazon. If I'd ever find something like this problematic, I'd happily remove the book from Amazon. In fact, I already have some short works that are only available on other platforms. It's quite liberating. I can make a book free or discount it for a few weeks or months on selected platforms without triggering a freebie/discounting downward gouging slide.
Title: Re: Why I had to delete my book from Google Play Books
Post by: ricola on June 10, 2014, 01:30:07 AM
The sales you might lose from it wouldn't be equal to the free downloads on Amazon, though.  Unless I was moving a big hunk of the number on Amazon for paid that I would on Google for free, I wouldn't sweat it too much.  Since I've figured out Google, I've started moving hundreds of free ebooks (instead of ones of free ebooks, LOL), so I had a higher price point and was moving, say, 100 per day on Google versus 30 per day paid on Amazon and getting paid the same, I'd take it.
Title: Re: Why I had to delete my book from Google Play Books
Post by: FictionalWriter on June 10, 2014, 03:58:36 AM
The sales you might lose from it wouldn't be equal to the free downloads on Amazon, though.  Unless I was moving a big hunk of the number on Amazon for paid that I would on Google for free, I wouldn't sweat it too much.  Since I've figured out Google, I've started moving hundreds of free ebooks (instead of ones of free ebooks, LOL), so I had a higher price point and was moving, say, 100 per day on Google versus 30 per day paid on Amazon and getting paid the same, I'd take it.

Unless you remove the book from Amazon when it goes free on Google, it's game over.  Your downloads on GP will vanish. Everyone will download it from Amazon. Your sales will also dry up at other retailers. It's free on Amazon, why go to iTunes or B&N and pay for it. Just because it may not have been selling well as a PAID book doesn't mean it won't be scooped up by readers looking for something new in the "free" store.

For me, this was my bestselling book -- certainly historically. I absolutely could not AFFORD to have this book go free on Amazon or the sales of it to die everywhere else. Not if I wanted to keep some decent money coming in every month.

Title: Re: Why I had to delete my book from Google Play Books
Post by: Patty Jansen on June 10, 2014, 04:08:03 AM
Unless you remove the book from Amazon when it goes free on Google, it's game over.  Your downloads on GP will vanish. Everyone will download it from Amazon. Your sales will also dry up at other retailers. It's free on Amazon, why go to iTunes or B&N and pay for it. Just because it may not have been selling well as a PAID book doesn't mean it won't be scooped up by readers looking for something new in the "free" store.

For me, this was my bestselling book -- certainly historically. I absolutely could not AFFORD to have this book go free on Amazon or the sales of it to die everywhere else. Not if I wanted to keep some decent money coming in every month.



I think you underestimate the loyalty people have to their chosen channel, especially the non-Amazon channels. You'll find more cross-pollination from GP to, say, B&N or Kobo because of the shared format.

If I wanted a book, I'd go on Kobo and get the book. I wouldn't even LOOK on Amazon, because I don't have a Kindle. OK, I have a tablet with the Kindle app, but I dislike shopping on Amazon and have let my account lapse, because they require me to give my credit card number for freebie download. Nup. Not happening, dudes.

I actually tested this site loyalty. My first permafree was free for many months on Amazon before it was free on Kobo. It was my absolute bestselling title on Kobo (and it never did much on Amazon), so I was reluctant to set it free on Kobo, too. I imagined the sales would eventually taper off as people would buy it elsewhere.

They didn't.
Title: Re: Why I had to delete my book from Google Play Books
Post by: Hugh Howey on June 10, 2014, 05:30:19 AM
Yes.

1. When Google discounts and potentially costs an author dozens, hundreds, thousands of dollars in doing so, it's a problem.

2. All the retailers have TOS that allow them to change prices at will. If I'm unwilling to allow that, I can't sell books anywhere. Google appears to be the only one doing this kind of thing, though.

3. This is nothing like when Amazon discounts trade books. The publisher is paid the same, and no other retailer drops their prices and pays the publishers less. Very different situation.

4. Pointing out that too bad, it's in the TOS you agreed to, particularly when the people involved well know this, accomplishes what, exactly?

5. I've yet to hear about Amazon suddenly giving away someone's book and causing them to lose thousands at another retailer. If Google's doing it, it merits discussion. It's important to decide if the risk is worth the reward of selling there.

6. It's a big deal. Picture your $500 a day seller suddenly free on Google Play, and price-matched to free on Amazon. Even for a day or two, that could be devastating to something climbing the charts. Just taking it off the paid lists could be devastating and keep a book that was destined for the top from ever getting there. Minimizing the situation doesn't help.

7. Google's not going to change their policy, at least not until people leave in droves, which I doubt will happen. Finding ways to get around a potentially damaging discount are the best option aside from pulling books. (I don't sell there, because I don't want to be bothered with watching them like a hawk.)

Every bit of this.
Title: Re: Why I had to delete my book from Google Play Books
Post by: Mercia McMahon on June 10, 2014, 05:53:10 AM
I don't see how Google would have a case, though. If I had books in Google Play, I'd be quitting them right now not out of fear of Amazon, but because Google is either completely or willfully blind to my needs. Google would have no problems doing this kind of thing for authors enrolled in an exclusive program, like KDP Select. But if Google makes one of your books go free without telling you, you can lose out on all kinds of Amazon sales in the interim, without even being given notice. Google knows Amazon matches price and that its royalties are a percentage model; hence they know by doing this they screw authors. Either they're making books free or discounted as part of a short-sighted play to grow their store at the expense of the long game (not inconceivable), or they're just outright malicious.

Google have a case because they are engaging in the practice that every retailer makes you sign up to: that they are the retailer and will chose how to sell the book in order to build their platform. This is perfectly legal even in Europe for Google (or Kobo or Apple or Nook or Amazon). KDP go one step further and cross the line into illegality (in Europe) because they are reducing your list price and threatening you with expulsion from the biggest eBook market if you do not toe the line. Google has no responsibility in law or business ethics to take into account the impact of unconscionable contracts at another company.
Title: Re: Why I had to delete my book from Google Play Books
Post by: MaryMcDonald on June 10, 2014, 06:26:08 AM
Too late now, but if I were you I just would have raised the price to something crazy. If they want to give it away without your permission and pay you anyway, they can pay you A LOT for the privilege.  ;D

Best solution in the thread.  :D
Title: Re: Why I had to delete my book from Google Play Books
Post by: ElHawk on June 10, 2014, 06:34:34 AM
Google Play had one of my books discounted by about 90 cents for several months, and Amazon price-matched it. It didn't make a major impact on my income over at Amazon, so I left it alone to see whether keeping my books on Google Play would bring in more money than taking them off. After reading this thread, I just checked my sales reports on Google Play for the past few months...and noticed that they'd significantly discounted ALL my books by several dollars each. Fortunately, Amazon hadn't yet price-matched those books, too. I just pulled all my books from Google Play and won't be back until they change this crazy discounting policy.
Title: Re: Why I had to delete my book from Google Play Books
Post by: Patty Jansen on June 10, 2014, 06:37:35 AM
Google Play had one of my books discounted by about 90 cents for several months, and Amazon price-matched it. It didn't make a major impact on my income over at Amazon, so I left it alone to see whether keeping my books on Google Play would bring in more money than taking them off. After reading this thread, I just checked my sales reports on Google Play for the past few months...and noticed that they'd significantly discounted ALL my books by several dollars each. Fortunately, Amazon hadn't yet price-matched those books, too. I just pulled all my books from Google Play and won't be back until they change this crazy discounting policy.

Why not just jack your price up on Google Play? They don't have a maximum.
Title: Re: Why I had to delete my book from Google Play Books
Post by: Jan Strnad on June 10, 2014, 07:01:41 AM
Quote
Well done, go to the head of the class, you have chanced on the real purpose of Google discounting. This is about forcing authors to quit Google out of fear of Amazon. Those going back into Select are an irrelevancy to them, Google legal want evidence that their profits are being harmed by restrictive practices at Amazon.


If I'm understanding you correctly, you're saying that Google is purposefully discounting books in order to trigger Amazon price-matching, in order to cause authors to remove their books from Google Play, in order to demonstrate that Amazon's practices are damaging Google financially.

I'm not sure that they are that Machiavellian. If so, what they are doing is unconscionable, devastating the incomes of self-publishers to advance their own corporate agenda.

I'm hoping that they simply haven't thought things through, that they're looking at their own store and thinking, "We're taking care of authors by paying them their full royalty even when we give their books away," and not considering the ultimate impact.
Title: Re: Why I had to delete my book from Google Play Books
Post by: FictionalWriter on June 10, 2014, 07:33:05 AM
If this were the case, wouldn't you see CRAZY -- sell at no profit -- discounts of the bestsellers from traditional publishers? I imagine they'd attract WAY MORE readers that way. Why is this only happening to self-published books? Because they can. And because they don't care if they cannabilize our sales with the biggest ebook seller in the market.

Which isn't to say that I AGREE with how Amazon handles price matching. If Amazon would allow authors to just list their books free, no one would need Amazon to price match anything.
Title: Re: Why I had to delete my book from Google Play Books
Post by: Wansit on June 10, 2014, 07:51:34 AM
I'm delisting today as well. Amazon price-matched my trilogy boxed set to a duology on GP.  :-\
Title: Re: Why I had to delete my book from Google Play Books
Post by: Mark E. Cooper on June 10, 2014, 08:00:55 AM
I always check my sales pages each morning. I like to see trends mainly... for example, if reviews all suddenly turn mean, I want to know why. Maybe its a formatting thing or pricing thing I can fix.

I always keep an eye on pricing anyway. GP discounts 25% automatically. I've been there now for over 6 months and never been discounted to free, BUT I am guessing that might be because I made my book 1s free there anyway, and going free on a book 2 wouldn't make sense to GP.

Having said that, I wouldn't pull my books from GP just for doing what is basically good business. By paying me full royalty on a free book they get a lot of respect from me. I would run the numbers calmly, and if I am making more or the same with a Google discounted to free book, I would let it ride knowing my visibility at Amazon would increase when it price matches.

As far as I know, these GP free discounting things are limited similar to the Amazon select free days. I don't think I would lose overall if GP sent a book of mine free for 5 days. I could be wrong, but as I say I would run the numbers to decide, and even then I would probably turn that book off briefly to break the discount and then switch it back on.
Title: Re: Why I had to delete my book from Google Play Books
Post by: Lummox JR on June 10, 2014, 08:38:16 AM
Google have a case because they are engaging in the practice that every retailer makes you sign up to: that they are the retailer and will chose how to sell the book in order to build their platform. This is perfectly legal even in Europe for Google (or Kobo or Apple or Nook or Amazon). KDP go one step further and cross the line into illegality (in Europe) because they are reducing your list price and threatening you with expulsion from the biggest eBook market if you do not toe the line. Google has no responsibility in law or business ethics to take into account the impact of unconscionable contracts at another company.

When Amazon price-matches I don't see how there's a threat of expulsion involved; they simply lower the price automatically in response to external information. If another market sells your book for less, they have no way to know if it's you who set it or the other market. They make it clear that they always want to be able to sell for your lowest price, so they can compete. If they paid you full price on books they sold lower than your list, they couldn't price match at all because a competitor (or an author) could screw them at will. What you're pushing is basically the agency pricing model, where you always get a set royalty regardless of the sale price--but the only reason that model doesn't screw Amazon right now is because the wholesale price of the book (which is much higher than the actual author royalty) is too high for a distributor to consider it good sense to run a free promo.

There's really nothing unconscionable about Amazon's arrangement breaking with this model--especially inasmuch as this market more or less wouldn't have existed without them. It does suck when another company forces the price match. Hence why it's simply a matter of good courtesy to give authors a heads-up if they're going to do so.
Title: Re: Why I had to delete my book from Google Play Books
Post by: Becca Mills on June 10, 2014, 08:54:17 AM
That's an option for a book that doesn't sell worth two squirts at Amazon. For one that sells, though, taking it off sale is practically book suicide.

If the free downloads increase much, sure. I don't think they'll increase enough to offset losses at Amazon if it's price-matched (again, unless the book doesn't sell anyway).  I wonder if someone with a free book at Google Play would be willing to share download numbers? I'm guessing they're nothing like the Zon's.

Here are my permafree numbers on the two platforms (the book went free last November). This is copied and pasted from another forum:

all Amazons*: 6183 (Nov13) + 780 (Dec13) + 663 (Jan14) + 347 (Feb14) + 383 (Mar14) + 262 (Apr14) + 245 (May14) = 8863
Google: 974 (Nov-Mar) + 537 (Apr) + 619 (May14) = 2130

*vast majority = .com

So, Amazon is way ahead of GP due to a big start. But it's falling every month. In contrast, GP is increasing monthly. So far this month, GP is running at close to four times the Amazon downloads. This, of course, does not mean a paid book would follow the same pattern, and I'm not the best example, since I don't yet have a paid book as a follow-up. But if the paid ratios on the platforms are similar to the free downloads, I'd probably choose GP over Amazon, at this point.

Google Play had one of my books discounted by about 90 cents for several months, and Amazon price-matched it. It didn't make a major impact on my income over at Amazon, so I left it alone to see whether keeping my books on Google Play would bring in more money than taking them off. After reading this thread, I just checked my sales reports on Google Play for the past few months...and noticed that they'd significantly discounted ALL my books by several dollars each. Fortunately, Amazon hadn't yet price-matched those books, too. I just pulled all my books from Google Play and won't be back until they change this crazy discounting policy.

FYI, TK's megathread gives instructions on how to price your books so that, after normal discounting, the GP price is the same as the Amazon price. Sounds like maybe you were getting discounted at a higher rate than normal, though?
Title: Re: Why I had to delete my book from Google Play Books
Post by: PamelaKelley on June 10, 2014, 09:35:17 AM

I just read this thread with interest. Just this past weekend I read the Amazon/Jeff Bezos biography, The Everything Store, which was fascinating. Amazon had a history of doing this kind of thing whenever they wanted to conquer a market, price-matching and selling items at a loss to win market share. They lost millions, but then gained significant market share and often acquired the competitors they were targeting.

As distressing as this newest practice is with the deep-discounting that Google is doing, I actually see it as a long-term positive thing if they are able to gain significant market share away from Amazon. I'm not on Google yet, was planning to get on soon, but may hold off until this settles a bit. Hopefully they will ease off on discounting all the way to free.
Title: Re: Why I had to delete my book from Google Play Books
Post by: WDR on June 10, 2014, 09:59:52 AM
If Google is going to pay me full royalty while offering my book for free--God Bless Google! I would be delighted to see that happen! Who can I call to beg them to do this for me? That might even be worth bribing someone to set my price to $0. All I need is 5,000 10,000 copies to be downloaded... :D

The last time I read the Amazon TOS, I believe that in the part about price matching it was stated Amazon would match the competitor's price if the competitor price was set for more than a certain number of days. For example, if GP puts the price on your book to $0 for, say, only three days, it is unlikely that Amazon will match the $0 price. But if it went on for more than a week, then it would be price matched.

My advice is don't panic. Yell, scream, shout, stomp your feet, and vent. But don't panic. Once you've released your distress through a good emotional outburst, calmly review the facts and consider whether your emotional reaction was warranted or not. Then act upon the reasoned conclusion and not the emotional one.

As independent writers, we are held to and treated by a different standard than the big name/monied publishers. We are in a position where we could be seriously abused should a retailer decide they are going to take the greedy route and try to gouge us out of our income. The only position of strength we hold, is we can decide to no longer sell our wares through their retail channels. Any retailer can anger a few writers and just shrug it off. But anger a lot of writers and that could result in serious market-wide and financial damage to the retailer.

Imagine if Retailer-X decided instead of 70% they were only going to give the writers 10% of the proceeds and keep 90% for themselves--an almost 86% reduction of income for every independent writer. I'd bet it would take less than 14 hours before every writer removed their titles from that retailer. What if every retailer colluded to reduce the writer's share to less than 30%? Well, then I'd like to introduce everyone to Weird Willy's Ebook Emporium where we would offer an 75% share to writers, without the bull----: no mandatory price matching, opt in/out on scheduled store-wide sale pricing, set your own sales, allow you to generate coupons to hand out at conventions and shows, etc.

Hm-- Say, anyone got $10 million they can throw at me? I could have that up and running in a month! :)
Title: Re: Why I had to delete my book from Google Play Books
Post by: atmaweapon on June 10, 2014, 10:13:58 AM
Thanks for calling attention to this. I was thinking of putting all my books up on Google Play, but now I'm seriously reconsidering.
Title: Re: Why I had to delete my book from Google Play Books
Post by: Mercia McMahon on June 10, 2014, 03:06:59 PM
When Amazon price-matches I don't see how there's a threat of expulsion involved; they simply lower the price automatically in response to external information. There's really nothing unconscionable about Amazon's arrangement breaking with this model--especially inasmuch as this market more or less wouldn't have existed without them. It does suck when another company forces the price match. Hence why it's simply a matter of good courtesy to give authors a heads-up if they're going to do so.

I suggest that you re-read your KDP contract, you signed up to never having a book on another retailer that is lower than Amazon (in the EU this is illegal). Sometimes they send a threatening email giving you so many days to fix it or face penalties (which can include expulsion for breach of contract, more likely just taking that book offline), mostly they just reduce your list price without sending an email to inform you. Retailers altering your prices but paying you the same list price is not bad (Amazon do it as well, its in your contract), the problem is Amazon's contract that punishes you when other retailers do it. An unconscionable contract.

Google are an even more ruthless company than Amazon and with far bigger pockets. They (and not us) are taking a financial hit on this deal because they can afford to and they can afford to force Amazon into monopolistic behaviour (i.e., it is them punishing us) and then Google are laughing all the way to the courts. Amazon's saving grace is that Apple are and always will be a hardware company and have no interest in selling books that will not drive hardware sales. Because Apple are even more ruthless than Google (just ask Samsung) and have the biggest pockets in the world.
Title: Re: Why I had to delete my book from Google Play Books
Post by: legion on June 10, 2014, 09:10:57 PM
I recently submitted a few titles to GooglePlay, and it is because I'd heard of the crazy price-slashing practices that, besides the perma-free available everywhere, I submitted special GooglePlay editions (2-book bundles) not offered elsewhere. These bundles are priced higher than any single item I have available on Amazon etc., even after GP slashing (due to paranoia the bundle could be mistaken for one of the singles).

But I'm definitely keeping my eyes open since it seems almost anything goes with GP!

Title: Re: Why I had to delete my book from Google Play Books
Post by: Patty Jansen on June 10, 2014, 09:37:44 PM
I recently submitted a few titles to GooglePlay, and it is because I'd heard of the crazy price-slashing practices that, besides the perma-free available everywhere, I submitted special GooglePlay editions (2-book bundles) not offered elsewhere. These bundles are priced higher than any single item I have available on Amazon etc., even after GP slashing (due to paranoia the bundle could be mistaken for one of the singles).

But I'm definitely keeping my eyes open since it seems almost anything goes with GP!



This is an awesome reply and gives me some good ideas. I tend to tailor my inventory to the specific retailer, and would like to do more of that.
Title: Re: Why I had to delete my book from Google Play Books
Post by: Shelley K on June 11, 2014, 12:33:31 AM
I recently submitted a few titles to GooglePlay, and it is because I'd heard of the crazy price-slashing practices that, besides the perma-free available everywhere, I submitted special GooglePlay editions (2-book bundles) not offered elsewhere. These bundles are priced higher than any single item I have available on Amazon etc., even after GP slashing (due to paranoia the bundle could be mistaken for one of the singles).



Excellent.
Title: Re: Why I had to delete my book from Google Play Books
Post by: Zelah Meyer on June 11, 2014, 07:18:02 AM
I recently submitted a few titles to GooglePlay, and it is because I'd heard of the crazy price-slashing practices that, besides the perma-free available everywhere, I submitted special GooglePlay editions (2-book bundles) not offered elsewhere. These bundles are priced higher than any single item I have available on Amazon etc., even after GP slashing (due to paranoia the bundle could be mistaken for one of the singles).

But I'm definitely keeping my eyes open since it seems almost anything goes with GP!

That is an excellent idea.  Thank you!
Title: Re: Why I had to delete my book from Google Play Books
Post by: ElHawk on June 11, 2014, 07:24:11 AM
Why not just jack your price up on Google Play? They don't have a maximum.

Because I'd probably sell even fewer, but if they still wanted to discount to $1.50 or whatever, Amazon would eventually price-match that, where they DO sell a lot, and it WOULD impact my income. So not selling any copies, or maybe two copies of a higher-priced but heavily-discounted book on Google Play would not make up for the loss of income on Amazon.

In fact, in an eerie coincidence, after I posted in this thread Amazon DID price-match the box set, which I'd told GP to remove but it was still processing, so still up on the website for a few hours. All my books are now gone from Google Play but both price-matched books are still price-matched on Amazon, including the one that earns me the most. I'm taking a two-dollar-per-sale hit on it, which adds up fast. Hopefully Amazon updates soon and it goes back to regular price.
Title: Re: Why I had to delete my book from Google Play Books
Post by: Wansit on June 11, 2014, 07:30:56 AM
I recently submitted a few titles to GooglePlay, and it is because I'd heard of the crazy price-slashing practices that, besides the perma-free available everywhere, I submitted special GooglePlay editions (2-book bundles) not offered elsewhere. These bundles are priced higher than any single item I have available on Amazon etc., even after GP slashing (due to paranoia the bundle could be mistaken for one of the singles).

But I'm definitely keeping my eyes open since it seems almost anything goes with GP!



Just FYI - that's exactly what I did and my duology on GP was price-matched to the trilogy boxed set on Amazon. That, and the fact that I rarely sold there, made me pull it.
Title: Re: Why I had to delete my book from Google Play Books
Post by: Jan Strnad on June 11, 2014, 08:10:53 AM
A heads-up to the author, from Google Play, that their book was about to be offered for free would solve the problem for me. I'd de-list the book from Amazon during that time period, which would also serve Google.

I don't know how serious Google is about giving away books and paying the royalty anyway. For instance, if I knew that such a promo was coming up, I'd go for the whole promo push hoping for thousands of downloads. I wonder what Google would think of that.
Title: Re: Why I had to delete my book from Google Play Books
Post by: Quiss on June 11, 2014, 09:10:10 AM
A heads-up to the author, from Google Play, that their book was about to be offered for free would solve the problem for me. I'd de-list the book from Amazon during that time period, which would also serve Google.

I don't know how serious Google is about giving away books and paying the royalty anyway. For instance, if I knew that such a promo was coming up, I'd go for the whole promo push hoping for thousands of downloads. I wonder what Google would think of that.

Ha! Business idea:  Create a Bookbub-esque service that targets only Google users at short notice. Charge authors to promote those free promos to those users directly.
Imagine how much authors would pay to get a few thousand downloads!
Title: Re: Why I had to delete my book from Google Play Books
Post by: K.B. on June 11, 2014, 10:07:12 AM
A heads-up to the author, from Google Play, that their book was about to be offered for free would solve the problem for me. I'd de-list the book from Amazon during that time period, which would also serve Google.

I don't know how serious Google is about giving away books and paying the royalty anyway. For instance, if I knew that such a promo was coming up, I'd go for the whole promo push hoping for thousands of downloads. I wonder what Google would think of that.

You really think it's be worth it to lose your rankings on Amazon?
Title: Re: Why I had to delete my book from Google Play Books
Post by: Debbie Bennett on June 11, 2014, 10:27:01 AM
Small comparisons, but I ended up putting my prices up on Smashwords for this reason. Smashwords distribute to B&N at US$ prices and B&N push to Nook UK at (with their own exchange rate), so I can't set a separate UK price. Then Amazon UK price-match to Nook.

So I had to set all my Smashwords prices $1 higher, so that my Amazon UK Price could be what I wanted it to be.....
Title: Re: Why I had to delete my book from Google Play Books
Post by: DuncanMH on June 11, 2014, 11:33:56 AM
I was wondering if this is a recent development, or if it's been happening for a while? Anyone know?

DH
Title: Re: Why I had to delete my book from Google Play Books
Post by: Jim Johnson on June 11, 2014, 11:45:27 AM
I'm grateful for this thread. I'll be starting publishing this summer and now I know to stay the heck away from GP.
Title: Re: Why I had to delete my book from Google Play Books
Post by: Lady Vine on June 11, 2014, 12:39:13 PM
I'm grateful for this thread. I'll be starting publishing this summer and now I know to stay the heck away from GP.

And this right here is why this is a bad idea. Sure, for some authors Google brings in more money than Amazon, but for the majority, this isn't worthwhile. Google's market share is simply too small to pull this off. All they'll end up doing is losing publishers, and their catalogue will forever remain small. Indies barely give them a second thought as it is.

I'm selling multiple books a day on Google, so I'm excited for their growth. But the minute they start costing me money, I'm outta there. I'm willing to bet this will be the response of the vast majority of indies.
Title: Re: Why I had to delete my book from Google Play Books
Post by: AriadneW on June 11, 2014, 02:00:38 PM
I am in the process of removing my best selling book from there this morning after reading all these comments. I love the idea of Google Play/Books, and I'm happy to leave up the books that don't sell a huge amount because if they were dropped in price, I don't think it would make that much difference. I was prepared for discounting, but not the risk of it being set to free.
Title: Re: Why I had to delete my book from Google Play Books
Post by: AriadneW on June 11, 2014, 02:04:07 PM
The last time I read the Amazon TOS, I believe that in the part about price matching it was stated Amazon would match the competitor's price if the competitor price was set for more than a certain number of days. For example, if GP puts the price on your book to $0 for, say, only three days, it is unlikely that Amazon will match the $0 price. But if it went on for more than a week, then it would be price matched.

Amazon price match really quickly. I took part in a promotion on iBooks that required me to drop the price to 99c and even though it was a great opportunity, I hesitated knowing that Amazon would follow suit. I set the price the night before the promotion on iBooks as agreed thinking I'd sort out the rest the next day, and Amazon had already matched it the following morning. They move really fast when they want to. ;)
Title: Re: Why I had to delete my book from Google Play Books
Post by: WDR on June 11, 2014, 04:48:59 PM
Amazon price match really quickly. I took part in a promotion on iBooks that required me to drop the price to 99c and even though it was a great opportunity, I hesitated knowing that Amazon would follow suit. I set the price the night before the promotion on iBooks as agreed thinking I'd sort out the rest the next day, and Amazon had already matched it the following morning. They move really fast when they want to. ;)

Yes, the key being the promotion was on the iBookstore. Apple and Amazon watch each other very closely.
Title: Re: Why I had to delete my book from Google Play Books
Post by: alawston on June 12, 2014, 08:12:55 AM
Yes, the key being the promotion was on the iBookstore. Apple and Amazon watch each other very closely.

Yes, Amazon took months to spot that my 0.77 short story collection was priced at 0.65 on Kobo. The instant I experimented with the price on iBooks, though...
Title: Re: Why I had to delete my book from Google Play Books
Post by: drno on June 12, 2014, 02:45:55 PM
Unbeknownst to me, of course, I discovered this morning that Google had listed my best earning historical romance for FREE. Yes free. They were paying me based on my list price of $5.18 but they have it free. Obviously, to me this wasn't about the money I was earning from those free sales but the ramifications this might have, especially if Amazon got ahold of that price.

I promptly took it down from Google. Yes, maybe I would have left it up if Amazon would also pay me for FREE copies based on the price I listed with them but that's not the case.

Why didn't you unpublish from Amazon and use every promo site to target readers to the Free Google listing. You could've made a mint. Maybe??
Title: Re: Why I had to delete my book from Google Play Books
Post by: FictionalWriter on June 13, 2014, 07:58:34 AM
Why didn't you unpublish from Amazon and use every promo site to target readers to the Free Google listing. You could've made a mint. Maybe??

And have to start over with my book on Amazon when it's all said and done? Not worth it in the long run. Plus the readers I wouldn't have targeted would have been p*ssed as they paid $4.99 or $3.99 for it.
Title: Re: Why I had to delete my book from Google Play Books
Post by: Mark E. Cooper on June 14, 2014, 12:29:15 AM
If you don't want Amazon to price match a GP price promo, I think the title you use might be one fix. I heard this on SPP yesterday.

My book: the 123 series #1

on  GP might be:

My Book: 123 Chronicles book 1

I haven't had a problem using GP with 25% added for discounts, but my book 1s are free already so that might account for it. I DO watch my sales pages, but I always do anyway in case there are problems. It's part of my daily ritual to check all is well each morning. Anyway, it worked for Johnney B Truant and SPP.
Title: Re: Why I had to delete my book from Google Play Books
Post by: rwillmer on June 16, 2014, 06:45:43 AM
Interesting. I check Luzme against actual prices regularly (admittedly not every day, I'd have no time to write if I did that!), and it's always been spot on. The alerts work great too. I wonder why it's flaky for some.

It includes all the platforms in your signature (apart from Smashwords own store, which doesn't discount anyway), and Google Play as well. It also checks stores on a per-country basis.

If any of the kboard folk see any problems with prices on Luzme, it would be great if you would let me know so I can check out what's wrong. I can't fix problems I don't know about!

Thanks!
Title: Re: Why I had to delete my book from Google Play Books
Post by: Authorius on June 16, 2014, 12:11:33 PM
I'm too tired to read this whole thread, but I'm just gonna jump in here to say that I've heard of people over-pricing their books at Google play to counteract any price cuts they give...this always made me nervous, so I have never given in to the temptation to publish there.  Now I am SO glad! 

I've heard about how much people make at Google...there's no way in freaking hell I would ever risk my Amazon income for peanuts at Google.  who cares if they pay you full royalty on a book they give away, if it destroys your income at THE major retailer?  Sorry Google, you're not Amazon.  And if you keep messing with your authors, you never will be.  I've held back, waiting, to see if Google policies will improve.  Obviously, they won't.  This is exactly what I feared could happen, and because of it, I will never publish at Google. 

Thank you for sharing, OP. 
Title: Re: Why I had to delete my book from Google Play Books
Post by: Quiss on June 16, 2014, 01:48:10 PM
If any of the kboard folk see any problems with prices on Luzme, it would be great if you would let me know so I can check out what's wrong. I can't fix problems I don't know about!

Thanks!

I just did a search for my name.
The Catalyst shows the $3.99 at iTunes Canada, but it's available at Amazon.CA and Kobo for $3.95
When I click on Sky Hunter, I get the cover for Flight to Exile and links for both books.
Although Delphi Promised and Rebel Alliances are listed as my books, the actual results page only shows the number of pages for the book. No cover, no prices.
Quantum Tangle doesn't show up at all
Why are the cover images so blurry?

Well, you asked :)
Title: Re: Why I had to delete my book from Google Play Books
Post by: Lisa Grace on June 16, 2014, 01:53:55 PM
Here is the thing. Amazon is more like a flea market than a retailer for most self publishers.

No I have not lost my mind.
You are a vendor.   You are using Amazon to sell your product.  Here is where the flea market comes in.
At a flea market, you pay a set price for your space.  At Amazon, you pay a percentage of what you sell.  Either way, you pay for your space.  Now to continue.  Flea Market is the draw not Fred's stuff.  Amazon is the draw not Craig's burn dinner books. 
People go to flea markets/Amazon to look for stuff.  If they find and like your stuff great.
Flea markets have contracts as does Amazon.
Would you sell as much from your front porch or your own website?
And remember y'all signed the contracts.

I've called Amazon a virtual flea market in many posts in the past, so I agree 100% with your assessment.
Title: Re: Why I had to delete my book from Google Play Books
Post by: Okey Dokey on June 16, 2014, 02:02:04 PM
Contracts with the Amazon flea market?
I don't think so.
Title: Re: Why I had to delete my book from Google Play Books
Post by: Jan Strnad on June 24, 2014, 05:24:26 PM
Re: de-listing at Amazon to take advantage of a free-on-Google deal:

You really think it's be worth it to lose your rankings on Amazon?

Once you drop below a certain point (like, off the top 100) ranking doesn't seem to make much difference as far as I can tell. People won't page through a lot of screens to find a book, so I'm not sure what difference your rank makes if you're on page 40 or page 90 or page 206.

If anyone has insights into the importance of rank, I'd love to hear them!
Title: Re: Why I had to delete my book from Google Play Books
Post by: Cherise on June 24, 2014, 08:31:41 PM


If I'm understanding you correctly, you're saying that Google is purposefully discounting books in order to trigger Amazon price-matching, in order to cause authors to remove their books from Google Play, in order to demonstrate that Amazon's practices are damaging Google financially.

I'm not sure that they are that Machiavellian. If so, what they are doing is unconscionable, devastating the incomes of self-publishers to advance their own corporate agenda.

I'm hoping that they simply haven't thought things through, that they're looking at their own store and thinking, "We're taking care of authors by paying them their full royalty even when we give their books away," and not considering the ultimate impact.



When I first got here to KBoards in spring of 2012, no one sold on Google Play because of this practice.

TK's recent Google Play thread brought us all back to Google Play. This thread is likely to scare us all off again.

This is not new behavior, on Google's part.
Title: Re: Why I had to delete my book from Google Play Books
Post by: Cherise on June 24, 2014, 08:37:16 PM
I suggest that you re-read your KDP contract, you signed up to never having a book on another retailer that is lower than Amazon (in the EU this is illegal).


Every. Vendor's. TOS. Says. This.

Not. Just. KDP.
Title: Re: Why I had to delete my book from Google Play Books
Post by: SB James on June 24, 2014, 08:50:09 PM

Every. Vendor's. TOS. Says. This.

Not. Just. KDP.
Quite true. I just saw this on Nook's TOS also.
Title: Re: Why I had to delete my book from Google Play Books
Post by: Jill James on June 25, 2014, 10:32:00 AM
But if Google Play discounts, I didn't have the price lower. Actually, I have it higher on GP than anywhere else.
Title: Re: Why I had to delete my book from Google Play Books
Post by: rwillmer on June 25, 2014, 11:50:18 AM
I just did a search for my name.
The Catalyst shows the $3.99 at iTunes Canada, but it's available at Amazon.CA and Kobo for $3.95
When I click on Sky Hunter, I get the cover for Flight to Exile and links for both books.
Although Delphi Promised and Rebel Alliances are listed as my books, the actual results page only shows the number of pages for the book. No cover, no prices.
Quantum Tangle doesn't show up at all
Why are the cover images so blurry?

Well, you asked :)

Thanks for the reply!

Right, I've fixed the incorrect connection of Sky Hunter/Flight to Exile.

Regarding the missing prices and books, I suspect you needed to wait for the dynamic checks to complete. When you search for a book which I don't know about yet, lots of active searches get kicked off to try to find it, but that takes time to complete.

I'm seeing lots of prices in Canada for your books. Does that look better for you?

The frequency of the price checking for a particular book depends on what people are searching for; much though I'd like to, I can't check every book of the 1.5 million in my database every day in every country. So it's weighted by various factors: the paying customers come first (of course!), then the active readers, then everyone else.

The book covers come from the book stores; if you could point me at an example, I can check to see whether I'm picking up an image that's  too small.

all the best
Rachel

P.S. You might like to know that at least one Luzme user has some of your books on their watchlist...
Title: Re: Why I had to delete my book from Google Play Books
Post by: Briteka on June 25, 2014, 12:51:22 PM
Agreed. Seems a bit heavy handed. Surely they're aware of Amazon's policy regarding price and their market share.
Do they really think Amazon authors would go along with this?

I probably would go along with this.

It's a bad policy, and I haven't gotten to the end of this thread yet, nor have I heard of this happening before, but if Play were to do this to a select few of my books, I'd probably be happy with it.

1.) I know how well free books sell on Play. I have a lot of Permafrees up to compare with paid sales. The increase in sales on Play would probably overcome any lost sales on Amazon.

2.) I probably wouldn't mind having some more free books charting on Amazon.

But I'm obviously not everyone, and for people that have just a couple books out, this could be a killer. Still, at least ONE person would probably go along with this. :P
Title: Re: Why I had to delete my book from Google Play Books
Post by: trp on June 21, 2015, 10:03:46 AM
Just wanted to check and see if this was still going on. Apologies if this is addressed in another thread.