4062.jpgIt looks as if Amazon and Sony are going to have a direct sales channel challenge from Google. At the Tools of Change conference in Frankfurt Google announced that it will be running out its own book sales offering by June of next year.

Google is touting a “cloud” model which is supposed to allow the consumer to read a book on any device, anywhere, as long as the consumer can get to the library. Google’s idea, according the The Bookseller, is that the consumer shouldn’t have to pick a device, software or retailer. “Once a book has been accessed on a given device, a cached version will exist, making it possible for readers to access the book offline.” I must admit that without a few more details I don’t understand how this will work. The consumer will be able to buy the book from Google Books, a Google-partner retailer, or the publisher’s own website.

Evidently the publisher will take 63% if the book is bought through Google Books or 45% if the book is bought through a retailer.

We’ll need some more details to make sense of all of this, but competition is great and I wonder if DRM will be involved.


  1. Sounds like they’re talking about a book you buy, that stays online only… you’ll need to access it from a browser with a live connection.

    If consumers rail against e-books they “don’t own” because of DRM, this isn’t going to be any more popular…

  2. I agree with the statements above. This continues the idea that you’re “renting” an e-book instead of purchasing it. If publishers continue to push this kind of business practice, they’re going to have to seriously reconsider their pricing scheme. No one wants to pay $10 or more for access to a book (at least, I’m willing to bet that few people are).

    I’m sure that whatever Google uses now to keep people from copying pages already viewable on Google Books will continue to be used. But if Google Books catches on, it will probably only be a matter of time before someone figures out how to copy and share those.

  3. The online/offline wrinkle is interesting, and a definite plus over online-only reading. IMO, this is needed for readers.

    But it also raises all sorts of hacking potential. The text will be on your hard drive or flash chips, presumably inside the program files, compressed and encrypted. The history of hacking suggests that these books will soon be cracked.

    Of course, the printed book is easily scanned and OCR’d or saved as PDF anyway.

  4. At least they’re giving authors and publishers a better percentage than Amazon does. That just shows even if you spend lots on infrastructure, it’s still possible to treat your suppliers well. Not that Amazon has ever felt it necessary to justify their gouging.

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