Thursday, June 11, 2009

Google forays Into The ebook Biz

Google has indicated its intent to introduce a program by that would enable publishers to sell digital versions of their newest books direct to consumers through Google, according to a recent article in the New York Times.

The move pits Google against Amazon, which looks to control the e-book market in a very Apple-like way with its Kindle offerings and e-book sale pipeline to them.

Since many ebooks are found from a Google search in the first place there is a binding logic to seeing Google skip the middle man and enter the ebook business themselves.

What’s going to be really interesting I suspect, is to see how well this does against the Amazon Kindle crowd. That ought to be really interesting. Because it will mean Google having to tread onto Amazon’s home turf, I bet that Amazon is not going to take this lying down.

Amazon versus Google

If Amazon have made a false move with the Kindle, who benefits? One beneficiary is surely going to be Apple. The iPhone and the iTouch are already very text capable and they will only get more so as Apple extends the touchscreen interface to larger systems. But the other big gainer, in the long-term, perhaps the biggest beneficiary, is going to be Google. Google with its Book Search program and its alliances with publishers and libraries is going to occupy the place that would otherwise appear to be Amazon's of becoming our preferred source of access to published literature. Amazon seems to have taken a wrong turn in supposing that distribution, rather than access and search, is the key challenge for digital print.

Google and Apple, between them already have the solution for eBooks (and its not a download solution). Read and search on your iPhone and access via a web browser, anything in print can be handled that way. More to the point: everything in print can be handled that way. Everything will be searched via the web, everything will be accessed via the web. Downloads are pretty much of an irrelevance. The question is: what do authors and publishers plan to do about that?

Answer: "Maybe the publishers should themselves try selling/granting access direct". Aside from Google with its Book Search, the publishers are the other variable in the market-place which has a promising opportunity if the Amazon Kindle download system bombs. After all, scientific and technical publishers have made a reasonable fist of creating a digital market for their STM periodicals. Book publishers need to create access opportunities and figure out how to sell digitally direct.

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