Google Enters E-Book Market

Damon Young
July 19, 2010
Image of the Google Editions logo.

An article in the New York Times last month reported on the imminent launch (scheduled for later this summer) of the Google Editions digital books venture, which will basically sell full online access to any in-print book users might come across on Google Books. Once purchased (or rented), the book will be accessible to the purchaser from any computer or device with an Internet connection. In terms of e-publishing, this is a huge development: unlike the offerings of other e-publishers, Google hopes to make all in-print books available for digital purchase, which will therefore include a vast selection of professional, scholarly and academic titles, currently unavailable through device-specific retailers like Amazon or Apple.

Unlike Amazon or Apple, Google plans to work with – rather than compete with – independent bookstores. The New York Times reports that Google will “behave like a wholesaler and allow independent bookstores and other partners to sell its e-books on their own sites.” 

Dorin Sennett of Powell’s Books, Portland, said that Google would act like a wholesaler, leaving the curatorial and marketing roles played by bookstores intact: “I doubt they are going to be editorially recommending books and making choices about what people should read, which is what bookstores do.”

The NYT article certainly takes a positive view on this latest development in digital publishing, as does one commenter on a blog which follows the latest Google developments, who opines: “This sounds better than anything anyone else is offering. Free access to books that are not under copyright. You pay a fee for full access to copyrighted books. You have the power of Google search to find the content you are looking for. Sounds like a world class library at your finger tips. ”

But not everyone attributes benevolent motives to the massive corporation, and controversy over Google’s ambitious Library Project, which aims to scan every book ever published, continues to rage. What are your thoughts?