The Future of the Book and The Millions Interview

Richard Nash of Soft Skull on Google Print

By posted at 8:07 pm on November 14, 2005 0

I’ve been writing a lot about Google Print lately. We know that the major publishers are not happy about Google’s book-related efforts, but I wanted to know what small publishers thought about the chance to put their books online via Google. I decided to get in touch with Richard Nash, publisher of Brooklyn’s Soft Skull Press. Overall he is pretty happy with the program, and while the revenue generated from the program is, at this point, nonexistent, Google Print seems to be a good tool for publicizing his books. I reached him via a-mail this weekend and asked him about his experience with Google Print:

The Millions: Did you approach Google or did they approach you or did your books just show up in their index one day?

Richard Nash: I approached them. For the program called Google Print for Publishers, it’s all opt-in, so nothing will accidentally show up.

TM: Did you have any reservations about participating?

RN: None.

TM: Did any of your authors have any reservations about participating?

RN: I avoid author approval clauses on text-only electronic rights…author approval you get with foreign, mostly, but book club, anthology, photocopying etc, getting author approval would be really time-consuming and onerous. I’d be happy to pull any book the author might not want up, even though contractually I wouldn’t be obliged to. But I’d certainly do my best to make the case for why it should stay and I’d be happy to do that–I think of myself as needing to be an educator for our authors, whether it’s co-op, or reviews, or distribution, or Google Print for Publishers.

TM: According to Google Print, publishers share revenue from the ads displayed next to the book pages, are you seeing any money from this? If so how much?

RN: So far $6.74! And about 20,000 page impressions. But I’ve been in it for a year, and it’s ramping up very fast. I’d also say that non-fiction accounts for about 90% of the action.

TM: Google Print also includes links to your Web site and other online booksellers for each book. Are you seeing any increased traffic from this? Is that traffic turning into sales?

RN: Difficult to know, in that we’ve been seeing substantial increases in traffic to our site over the last four months anyway. In October, Google generated 15000 hits to our site; last December it was 7000. Sales, I would have no way of establishing though. Our online sales are not a huge component of our overall sales…we don’t really discount on our site.

TM: Are there any other small publishers that you’ve talked to about this?

RN: Not really, though I think absolutely everyone should do it. I’ve not yet heard a good reason not to, for anyone. I’d be a real advocate for it.

TM: Anything else you want to add about your Google Print experience?

RN: Oh well it would be nice to see more money faster, but certainly within a year I think it should reach Amazon.com referral fee level (of about $400 or so) and then keep ramping up. I’ll basically go into any program that will have me for free and that is not high maintenance.

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