Brandon Badger, Product Manager of Google Books, spent a lot of time explaining Google’s various philosophies and products. Of course, anyone attending this kind of conference knows all about Google and YouTube. It sounded like some kind of company pep-talk. Twitter was full of grumblings from people who were bored and looking for Badger to bit into the controversial stuff about Google Books: the settlement, orphaned works, authors’ rights.
Some might disagree with his statement that, “I think people want their books stored on the cloud so they can read them on any device.” Some of their books, but all of them?
He then went on to discuss plans for Google Books, including improved mobile phone access to Google Books, and launching Google eBook store, Google Editions. Google will also be partnering with retailers and device makers to enable them to sell Google’s books.
During the Q&A, Joshua Benton tried to push Badger toward talking about the settlement, competition, and the frustrations of the Publishing industry. In general, again, he did not stray from the companyâ€™s vaguely intimidating optimism. When Benton asked why Google’s involvement with publishing has inspired fear, Badger did admit, “Google can be very disruptive.” He asserted that they want to work with as many partnersâ€”booksellers and device makersâ€”as possible.
An audience member asked whether an author could self-publish a book on Google Books. Badger said that while authors could upload their book, “I don’t consider Google Books a publisher.”
Another audience member asked about the status of the Google settlement as of today. Badger’s answer made it clear that he is not particularly engaged with that ongoing story, which is the top priority for publishing people: “My understanding,” he said, “is that the process is moving forward. I believe that it’s moving forward.”