Google To Throw Its Hat In The eBook Arena

    June 1, 2009

Google’s been slowly edging its way into the book business for a good long while now. First Google Book Search, then a deal to show books still in copyright—and now they’re getting ready to take on Amazon in the eBook department.

If you’re at all into publishing (totally!), you know that BookExpo America ended yesterday. The book trade fair isn’t just a great place to work on your foreign rights deals—it’s also a good place for hinting at your potentially earth-shattering business moves. Like Google last week, according to the NYT:

In discussions with publishers at the annual BookExpo convention in New York over the weekend, Google signaled its intent to introduce a program by that would enable publishers to sell digital versions of their newest books direct to consumers through Google. The move would pit Google against, which is seeking to control the e-book market with the versions it sells for its Kindle reading device.

Can Google take on the acknowledged leader of online book sales? They’ve got a few things in their favor so far:

  • Google says they’ll let publishers set their own prices (and with Amazon selling <$10 e-versions of $26 hardbacks, publishers are sure to jump at the chance—however, readers may not be quite as happy to comply. Also, Google reserved the right to adjust “exorbitant” prices.).
  • The deal will be completely separate from their Book Search settlement.
  • Google’s already established Book Search Mobile, offering 1.5 million e-texts to the Sony e-Reader, biggest competitor to Amazon’s Kindle—as well as mobile phones. A new deal would make text available to those devices as well as Internet browsers.
  • Google has some experience charging for content—such as paid downloads from Google Video. However, most of these ventures haven’t been viable in the long-term.

What do you think? Are you interested in buying eBooks? Does Google have a shot to take on another Goliath?