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Google Enters the Ebook Wars…I Think

by Allen Weiner  |  October 15, 2009  |  3 Comments

According to reports from the Frankfurt Book Fair, Google has announced it intentions to enter the ebook business in 2010 with something called Google Editions, creating the sort buzz only Google can generate. The search giant will offer an ebook store to compete with Amazon.com, Barnesandnoble.com and others, yet somehow support purchases from those etailers via a browser-based ereader. The reader will work on any device that supports a web browser which includes all maters of desktops, laptop and notebook computers, Smartphones and a handful of dedicated ereading devices. However, the devil is in the details in the ebook business and there’s no mention of how Google will digitize books (hopefully not those dreadful scans) and secure them to offer via a browser-based reader.

All of this sound interesting? Well, somehow this story lost something in this news as it crossed the continent and made its way stateside. Something like, what about the publishers’ lawsuit that has yet to be resolved? Perhaps this is nothing more than a straw man to encourage publishers to encourage the courts to come to terms with Google. Clearly, the Google Editions plan looks financially tempting to publishers:

With GE, Google would give publishers 63 percent of revenues and keep 37 percent for itself where it sold e-books directly to consumers. Google already partners with publishers to make physical books searchable and available for sale.

In cases where e-books were bought through other online retailers, publishers would get 45 percent and most of the remaining 55 percent would go to the retailer, with a small share for Google

A few things Google has overlooked in its attempt to send a bouquet of Forget-Me-Nots to book publishers: I am not sure about others, but I have never used the browser on my Kindle. My sense is, that if consumers excessively used their device browsers, Amazon and other wireless device companies would begin to charge for 3G access. Sure, Google says you can read the book offline once you have accessed it via your browser, but that’s a choice not a mandate. Putting all these issues aside, this all becomes moot if Apple releases an Apptab and sells books via the iTunes store. Not even Google, with all of its superpowers can compete with the iTunes/iPod/iPhone culture.

Lest we forget, the publishers I have spoken to in the past year loathe doing business with Google. Secretly, or maybe not so secretly, I think to a man they hope Apple comes in and kicks Google’s…eh..tail. Amazon’s too.

Category: amazon  

Allen Weiner
Research VP
7 years at Gartner
23 years IT industry

Allen Weiner shares insights on how to monetize digital marketing through commerce. His focus on “Commerce Everywhere” provides perspective on how social, mobile, search and emerging channels can be tapped to improve customer experiences and drive business results … Read Full Bio


Thoughts on Google Enters the Ebook Wars…I Think


  1. This is definitely going to save me some textbook dollars…

  2. […] This post was mentioned on Twitter by Allen Weiner, Allen Weiner. Allen Weiner said: Google and eBooks? http://bit.ly/bQHVy […]

  3. Praokean says:

    …”Not even Google, with all of its superpowers can compete with the iTunes/iPod/iPhone culture.”

    Do not underestimate Google. Everything what Google touch became gold.



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