The e-book wars: Google vs. Amazon vs. Apple—and how they may duke it out

image How might Google battle Amazon’s Kindle side?

And just how might Apple strive to displace the Amazon Kindle for the title of “iPod of e-books”?

Your thoughts? To help you out, here are two starting links and related ones:

  • Google’s strategy to take out the Kindle, from By year’s end, will Google “be selling nearly every book in the Kindle Store and also giving away a ton of books”? And could there be more extensive give-aways in 2010? Maybe. As I noted today, Amazon apparently will be inserting ads in books, and would Google want Jeff Bezos to claim that space without stiff competition? Meanwhile Google’s terms to publishers are more attractive than Amazon’s. And of course Google has Google Book Search, and the related proposed settlement if it stands, to help keep it a major power in books.

    By way of disclosure, I’m a very small Google shareholder for retirement investment purposes, despite all the Google-bashing I’ve done. But forget that. As a writer published by a small house, I’m convinced that Amazon is treating small publishers and their writers like dirt if my case is typical. My paper edition is still not showing up in searches, unless you drill down, even though the Kindle one is. If enough other writers and publishers feel that Amazon is dissing them, that’s yet another challenge for Jeff in his battle with Google.

  • Amazon taps its inner Apple, in Fast Company. The author, Adam Pennenberg, speculates that Apple might “muscle its way” into e-books “with a full-color multitouch-screen media tablet that not only reads books but also offers video, music, Web surfing, email, and the combined power of the iTunes and Apple App Store.” Adding to the fun, he notes the rumor that “trucks stuffed with books have been arriving on the Apple campus and leaving empty.” Ah! Stealthy scanning in action? Meanwhile GalleyCat’s Jason Boog sees significance in a little tidbit that Pennenberg mentioned—an Apple patent for page-turning among other apps. Result of this and other developments? Apple is now on GalleyCat’s list of book-related stocks, despite Steve Jobs’ famous contention that no one reads anymore.

And speaking of Apple: Palm Pre vs. iPhone 3.0: A feature by feature comparison, in Fast Company.

Also in the e-book war: Yes, Sony is in the war, too, as others have noted, and it has even teamed up with Google to provide many thousands of public domain book sin ePub. But at this point, thanks to the ease of downloading books through radio connections, the Kindle is ahead of the Sony Reader. Oh, for Sony to throw out its BBeB proprietary format and focus on ePub rather than just hope that wireless connections in the future will make it more competitive with Amazon.

Other contenders: Besides Sony, Barnes & oble and Borders are challengers.

1 Comment on The e-book wars: Google vs. Amazon vs. Apple—and how they may duke it out

  1. I’m not sure I can even follow all of this – it’s going to be one wild ride, it sounds like. But I think that major book publishers are going to follow the strategy that convinced Apple to raise prices 30% on most new, popular music in the iTunes store, even in the midst of a steep recession.

    The strategy is to go to smaller competitors, ironically in the music case it included Amazon’s MP3 store, and offer much better terms, like no DRM requirement, higher quality and lower prices. Book publishers could do the same using Google’s new ebook platform.

    In the music case, of course, Apple capitulated to the demands of publishers and hiked prices. It maintained its market-leading position. Not long after, $1.29 songs hit all the other music sellers online including Amazon. While the demise of DRM-infested music files is good thing, consumers ended up paying a lot more. The prior status quo, with some DRM-free tracks in iTunes, all DRM-free tracks at Amazon, and lower prices everywhere, was a better deal for consumers who shopped around.

    And p.s. remember how the record labels promised the higher prices would only be for new music? Guess how much Michael Jackson’s suddenly-hot-again 1982 single Thriller is at iTunes or Amazon? Yep, $1.29.

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