Google Editions Shifts E-book Focus Away from Devices

1Executive Summary

Google (GOOG) showed a little more leg Thursday regarding its long-term e-book plans. Instead of targeting dedicated e-book readers, such as Amazon’s Kindle or Sony’s Reader, the search giant indicated it aims to add e-books to its strategy of moving content and applications off devices and into the cloud by making the browser the primary platform for reading, distributing and publishing digital books.

Speaking at the O’Reilly Tools for Change conference held during the Frankfurt Book Fair, Tom Turvey, head of the Google Book’s publisher partnership program, said the company’s long-planned e-commerce platform for e-books, dubbed Google Editions, will launch by June of next year with 400,000 to 600,000 titles and will serve up books to any device connected to the Web.

Users will be able to buy the e-books directly from the publisher, from Google, or from partner retailers. Prices will be set by publishers and revenue splits will vary depending on the option the customer chooses.

In a major departure from proprietary e-book offerings, Google Editions will cache users’ purchases in a “cloud library,” allowing them to be accessed from anywhere using any device with a Web browser. “It will be a browser-based access,” Turvey said. “The way the e-book market will evolve is by accessing the book from anywhere, from any access point of view and also from a geographical point of view.”

Turvey added that he expects the majority of users will purchase books from one of Google Editions’ retail partners rather than from Google itself. “We are a wholesaler, a book distributor,” he said. “Google Editions allows retail partners to sell their books, especially those who haven’t invested in a digital platform.”

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  1. i am a big believer in the paradigm of the dedicated device. on the other hand, i will be shocked if Amazon does not release a web accessible “library” within the next 6 to 12 months – not having that option will be a killer for their platform.

    from a publishers perspective, the only tangible difference seems to me – is the ability to price their content by themselves (unlike in the Amazon case). have to bare in mind though that nothing stops Amazon from flipping a switch to let publishers price variably – given market pressure.

    more importantly, Amazon has a tremendous in the “Books” vertical with years of R&D on recommender systems and relationships with leading publishers.

    monetizing through ads when the content is paid for, sounds like a bad idea – you do get a flyer when you buy a physical book, but not a stream of ads (i am presuming here). stick as many ads as reasonable if the content is free/subsidized.

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