The Latest Good E-Reader news has Google not only releasing a new Slate device on the Android 2.1 Operating system this summer. They have announced a simultaneous launch of their own eBook store at the same time, setting the scene for an all-out war with Apple and Amazon over the future of the digital eBook market.
Chris Palma, Google’s manager for strategic partner development, said that the launch of Google Editions was set for “late June or July” during a round-table discussion on the company’s predictions for digital publishing held at Random House. Speculation has recently arisen that August or September might be a more realistic date, due to some legal concerns.
The Skinny on Google Editions Distribution model
The way Google is going about their new ebook store concept is allowing the publishers to set the price of their ebook, and this a tremendously riveting. The Last six months there has been allot of complaints by some of the largest publishers about Amazon. More Specifically the fact that during the last few years Amazon has always set the prices of eBooks. Amazon sells e-books for a flat $9.99. Amazon accepts the loss on the ebook in order to gain market dominance. With this model in place the publishers loose out because their books are sold undervalued and major publishing companies such as Penguin, and many smaller ones have severed ties with Amazon completely. Smaller publishing companies just cannot compete with the reduced price that Amazon sets.
Google is going in another direction abiding by the “agency model” , which allows the publishers to be the retailers, and the direct seller – in this case, Google – will take a cut of the sale price. That’s what allows the publishers, rather than Google, to set the sales price. Google will also host of all of the eBooks on their own servers, taking the burden of the sales process to be handled by Google directly.
A spokeswoman for Google said: “We’ve consistently maintained that we’re committed to helping our partners find more ways to make their books accessible and available for purchase online, and we’ve been sharing details with our partner publishers for some time now.”
As a Reader, you would able to buy eBooks you find through Google’s book search function and book retailers will be able to sell Google Editions on their own sites, getting most of the revenue from sales. Google Editions will be browser based, and have custom enhancements with its Chrome Web Browser and Google Slate device. One of the best features about this service is that you can purchase EBooks without locking you into a specific gadget, such as a E-Reader or Netbook or Slate PC. Google says its e-book strategy includes an electronic bookshelf for the books you access through Google via the cloud, “so you can come back and access [them] whenever you want in the future. They will exist in an offline mode as well, so you do not exclusively need to maintain an internet connection.
The aspect of putting direct control over the price of eBooks into the hands of the publishers, both large and small is ground breaking. If you look at one of the biggest stores Amazon, they lock you into their own E-Reader; the Kindle and Kindle DX. You will not be able to convert your books over to another format, or e-reader if you choose to upgrade or get a new one. Other stores do the same thing, mainly the older ones such as the Sony Book Store and the Barnes and Noble store.
EBooks turning into a web application?
Instead, any device with a Web browser will be able to access a Google Editions book. After you purchase and access your online book for the first time, it will be cached in your browser making the book available when you’re offline. We can foresee the concept of reading eBooks turned into a web app. Considering most new e-readers are Google Android based, such as the Barnes and Noble Nook, Spring Design Alex, or any E-Reader with a web based browser, ala the Kindle. Google’s use of the Web browser as an e-reader may make it slightly easier to access an e-book than these other retailers since Google will more than likely not abide by the standard ePub and PDF formats.
It seems that whenever Google gets involved with any new business, the immediate assumption is that the company will be able to reshape the market. It has happened in the past in the form of Gmail, offering more mail space then the competition and advanced span filters, to its advertising platform and its cloud based applications. Google is very ambitious and plans on accessing e-books nearly universal on almost any device that can get to the Web. However, Google not unique in this endeavour in wanting to deliver e-books to your PC. Some companies you might not have heard of; such as eBooks.com already do this, and the online social publishing site, Scribd begun to sell electronic books this year.
Will Goggles E-Book store, phasing out the middle men style book stores, and putting the power directly into the hands of the publisher be the best thing for the ebook industry? Would an iTunes strategy be the best thing for books? We can speculate that publishers will reduce prices on eBooks from the 9.99 price, and perhaps use Amazons strategy against them to gain market dominance.
Whatever transpires during the next while with Google Editions, do not discount the traditional ebook stores. Apples iBooks sold 1.5 million books in its first month since the iPad launch. Amazon sold 1.4 million Kindles in the last few months. There are lots of money in eBooks and it’s an industry just coming of age. With eBooks prices foreseeable coming down, as smaller publishing houses can sell books cheaper than any other store, authors, and smaller publishing companies can get wider exposure which is a boon to everyone from the reader, to the author.
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.