Google has closed their Play Books publisher program amidst concerns of rampant e-book piracy.
The Google Play Publisher Program allows independent authors and publishing companies to include their novels and app guides on the Google Play bookstore. Sadly, this program has been taken over by fake publishers and people uploading pirated apps.
There has been many documented cases of independent authors posting e-books by well known bestselling authors at a fraction of the price. This is taking money away from the real author and publishing company. In other cases people are uploading pirated apps that are posing as digital books. When you buy the book, you are given a link where you can download it. Some of the links are malicious, some are just regular scams, but none of them have the involvement of the actual authors or apps’ original developers, some of the APKs are even cracked or modded to give you unlimited in-app currency.
Many authors and publishing companies have brought the pirated content to the attention of Google, but Google tells them they have to reach out to the Publisher, as Google’s hands are tied. In other cases when specific content is pointed out to Google they tend to delete it right away. But the sad truth is, its instantly re-uploaded by the same people, poising as a different company.
Over the course of the last four weeks there has been a media firestorm about the sheer scope of pirated content on Google Play. This has forced the company to close their Play Books Publisher Portal. In a message in the Google Product Forums, a Google rep said “We’ve temporarily closed new publisher sign ups in the Play Books Partner Center, so we can improve our content management capabilities and our user experience. We’re working to reopen this to new publishers soon. Thanks for your patience.”
What is Google going to do in order to combat piracy? Will they implement a system like Content ID that is a YouTube fixture? Will they manually vet all future submissions by a dedicated team? The future of Play Books is uncertain, but we do know there is a huge piracy problem and something has to be done.
Michael Kozlowski is the Editor in Chief of Good e-Reader. He has been writing about audiobooks and e-readers for the past ten years. His articles have been picked up by major and local news sources and websites such as the CBC, CNET, Engadget, Huffington Post and the New York Times.