Google To Join The E-Book Fray With New Store

Because there apparently aren’t enough gunslingers at the e-book OK Corral, Google announced today that they plan on joining the battle royale when they open their online e-book store sometime this summer.

Google’s decision was made public today during a Book Industry Study Group Panel in NYC. Chris Palma, the company’s manager for strategic-partner development, was the one who dropped the e-bomb.

Writes the Wall Street Journal:

The company is hoping to distinguish it from offerings from incumbents like Amazon by allowing users to access books from a broad range of websites using a broad array of devices. Amazon.com’s digital book business is largely focused on its Kindle e-reader and Kindle software that runs on some other select hardware.

Also unlike Amazon or Apple, where buyers generally go specifically with purchasing in mind, the Google service will allow users to instantly buy digital copies of titles that come up as results in its Google Books search.

Additionally, Google intends to allow third parties, including independent retail shops, to sell Google Editions on their own sites, taking the bulk of the revenue.

According to the WSJ report, publishers are hoping that the omnipresence of Google will increase the retail profile of e-books and cause a dramatic increase in sales.

“This levels the retail playing field,” said Evan Schnittman, vice president of global business development for Oxford University Press. “And as a publisher, what I like is that I won’t have to think about audiences based on devices. This is an electronic product that consumers can get anywhere as long as they have a Google account.”

Google to Launch Digital Books by Early Summer [WSJ]

Comments

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  1. dreamfish says:

    With or without DRM?

  2. Loias supports harsher punishments against corporations says:

    I approve of anything that pushes e-books into universal formats that can be used accross any e-reader device. It sounds like this is a stepping stone to that end.

  3. Macgyver says:

    They should come out with an ereader, that just reads ebooks, and reads pdf’s without reformatting them, or having to zoom in to read them.
    And doesn’t do anything else, and make it somewhere between $50-$100.

    • Mike says:

      I have been saying the exact same thing since the kindle came out. Give me a device for $99 that just reads e-books, that’s it. I have no idea why they make it so complicated.

    • aloria says:

      If e-book readers were that cheap, I wouldn’t be so nervous about getting one and getting locked into a particular format/DRM scheme. $300 or so PLUS the cost of books is a pretty big investment. It also doesn’t help that ebooks generally aren’t much cheaper then their paper versions…

    • speedwell (propagandist and secular snarkist) says:

      Closest thing is the small Astak E-reader; I’m shocked at what they are going for right now, but I bought mine for well under 200, and I’m very happy with it.

      At least I am until I remember that my old Treo 90 had about the same functionality, and I could actually read it at night without having to struggle with having to bolt the functional equivalent of a desk lamp on the top.

  4. raydee wandered off on a tangent and got lost says:

    Well, google has been scanning libraries as part of its Google Books project for a while now, haven’t they? I’m really looking forward to finding some Google Editions of some *damned* obscure titles. There is so much that is good, but out of print.

    • ecwis says:

      I love Google Books. It’s pretty great for historical research. A lot of the information in 19th century books is not online in any other place.

  5. kalikala says:

    At the beginning of the 21st century, the Umbrella Corporation had become the largest commercial entity in the United States. Nine out of every ten homes contain its products. Its political and financial influence is felt everywhere. In public, it is the world’s leading supplier of computer technology, medical products, and healthcare. Unknown, even to its own employees, its massive profits are generated by military technology, genetic experimentation and viral weaponry.

  6. aloria says:

    I love the idea of e-book readers, really, and have been itching to get one, but I simply can’t bring myself to do so until

    1) There is a universal format for e-books that I can use, so I won’t be locked in to a particular reader. I have an iPod, but I’m not required to get iTunes-DRM’ed music, so if I ever want to go to something else, I am free to do so.

    2) I own my files, meaning whoever sold them to me can’t willy-nilly delete/expire/whatever them off my device

    3) The kinds of books I want will likely be available for my particular ebook reader

    I can see #2 happening to my satisfaction using something similar to what iTunes does for their DRMed files. Unfortunately, #1 won’t happen because it would either require DRMless books or cooperation among the different vendors. Even if I’m willing to accept that, and face the risk that I can never switch away from Sony or Nook or Kindle without losing my books, I still face the risk of #3, which is the books I want not being available for my particular device (but perhaps for another.)

    So honestly, e-books look like great fun, but I doubt I’ll ever feel comfortable enough with the state of things to get one.

    • SirWill says:

      I have a Kindle. I have bought books from sources other than Amazon and read them on my Kindle. Kindle can use mobipocket format which is fairly open.

      I will admit that I bought 1 from the sony book store, stripped the DRM, and converted it for use on my Kindle.

      Would it be nice if one device could handle all formats? Yep. I think the key thing is buying books without DRM. If you can do that, you can convert it for any device. The problem with one device for all formats is DRM, Nobody wants to license all formats for one device. Let alone people like Amazon don’t want to allow their books on a device other than their own.

    • ktetch says:

      I used to read ebooks on my palm Vx (until the wife put my jeans int he wash without checking the pockets…)

      It was cheap, handled most of the formats of books at the time (dunno about kindle) through a program called AportisDoc (it converted most formats to it’s own format with drag+drop, and queued the newly created pdb for sync) which meant you owned your own files too.

      One hand reading was easy, and even with only 8mb of ram, it could handle 10-12 books easily, and you could read one-handed. I used to read it when at the store, while pushing the cart.
      the major downside is, it couldn’t handle images.

    • osiris73 says:

      I read all of my books on my android phone. I can switch formats to almost anything I want. I own the titles. I couldn’t be happier.

  7. osiris73 says:

    I love the fact that Google is getting into the fray. It will help to keep the others honest and the prices low. This could possibly be the most important thing to happen to ebooks yet.

    • RevancheRM says:

      Came here to say this.

      Competition is good for the consumer; singular control lead to travesties like Halliburton.

  8. stormbird says:

    I have a Sony reader I use constantly (we’re talking over a thousand pages a week- I haven’t plugged my TV in yet and it’s been over a year). It does pdf, epub, txt and rft among others. There’s a program called Calibre (free) that manages your ebook library and converts files from one system to another. I’ve yet to buy a book from the Sony store- through legal means I have several thousand ebooks. I do believe epub is an open format (the Gutenberg project uses it).

    It should be easy to make a ereader that’s DRM free; there are ipod knockoffs that read txt files and it wouldn’t be that hard to let them read epub, I wouldn’t think. If you had the economy of scale, a color ebook reader ipod touch-sized would be well under $99. The kindle itself runs a version of Linux, so it should be possible to hack, though your warranty would be void.

  9. MattO says:

    i truely cant wait for this – I have a kindle, and it is ridiculous the way the publishers are treating the masses – lots of authors still dont believe in selling ebooks……well that will all change when more of their revenue is from the ebook market – so if google gets in on it, yay for all of us.

  10. kairi2 says:

    I get the whole e-Book craze, but I’m not into it. I stare at a computer screen long enough every day, my eyes need to rest whenever possible. Good old fashioned paper books provide that opportunity.

    • Mauvaise says:

      “I get the whole e-Book craze, but I’m not into it. I stare at a computer screen long enough every day, my eyes need to rest whenever possible. Good old fashioned paper books provide that opportunity.”

      That’s what’s great about the Kindle, Nook, Sony Reader: because of the e-ink technology, it’s the same (to your eyes) as reading a good old fashioned paper book. Because there is no backlight, there is no eye-strain – other than you’d experience reading a regular paper book.

      That why I don’t get why the iPad is supposed to be a Kindle-killer. Reading on it is going to cause the same kind of eyestrain as reading on a computer.

      • SaraFimm says:

        I’m wondering if the iPad has some sort of “e-ink” format for ebooks. If not, then it’s just a slim and limited laptop.