Second, friend of the blog John Andrews pointed out this article to me on Ars Technica, and the folks at PW talk about the same thing here. What it amounts to is this: Google has been engaged in a suit for some time about the issue of copyright. They believe they have the right to host scanned books -- often with library assistance -- and make information available for free to users. Copyright holders who make money by selling that information (fiction and nonfiction) feel otherwise, and don't particularly care for the opt-out policy that was offered. Jim Hines wrote about it back in March of this year, and back when I was writing for Literature Community News, a co-writer of mine did a piece about where she thought Google Books was headed (i.e. into controversy), which would have been back in 2005-06. In the past two weeks, Google has tried to convince the courts that the Authors Guild should not be allowed to represent the authors, and that only individuals should be able to press suit. This strikes me as kind of amusing, because my understanding of what the guild is supposed to do is represent individuals as a group rather than making them do all the work themselves. It looks, on the outside, like an attempt at union busting.
I like Google. I have friends who work for the company. They put out good products that I use. So I really wish there were a shiny happy side to this dispute. But there's not, and I find myself irked with Google for what looks to me like pulling an Amazon.
Last link of the day is also a lawsuit issue, as reported by PW: an anti-trust lawsuit against Apple and several major traditional publishers, accusing them of e-book price fixing, is moving forward. It sounds as though several similar cases are being consolidated, and the official complaint is to be lodged by January 20th. I am not a huge fan of the agency model -- it seems to me that retailers ought to be able to decide what they charge, and what they're willing to lose money on, so long as they pay an agreed upon price for a product. But I do think the agency model was a good attempt at trying to keep the value of writing up -- and keep us writers getting paid. So it's an interesting issue, and I'm eagerly awaiting further developments.
Someone (maybe jeff_duntemann?) said not too long ago that the world of e-books is publishing's Wild West. There's a lot going on with the digital world, and there's a lot of legislation trying to figure out how to manage this brave new world we're a part of. How it shakes out is going to affect us for a good long time!