Thursday, December 02, 2010

How important will Google Editions be?

We have been waiting for this for quite a long time. I have written before about the Big G's promised book distribution platform. It looks as though the launch at the end of December might really be on this time, though Google Editions has been promised since summer 2010.

But what is Google Editions? The Wall Street Journal (12/1/10) explains that, "Google Editions hopes to upend the existing e-book market by offering an open, "read anywhere" model that is different from many competitors. Users will be able to buy books directly from Google or from multiple online retailers—including independent bookstores—and add them to an online library tied to a Google account. They will be able to access their Google accounts on most devices with a Web browser, including personal computers, smartphones and tablets."

So, where Amazon's Kindle model is one bookstore (you can only buy ebooks from the Kindle Store) to many devices (mostly the Kindle,but increasingly you can read these ebooks on smartphones etc.) Google's model  is more of an hour glass. Many stores, all purchased ebooks stored in your Google account in the cloud, read on many devices.

GeekBeatTV thinks this will be big because of Google's dominance in search. Many independent booksellers seem to think it will be their route round Amazon and Apple and their entry point into e-book sales. The WSJ in the article linked above indicates that publishers are signed up and transferring files of ebooks, so this could be big because one of the main impediments to e-book use on any one device is the inability to get the full range of titles a reader wants. If Google can get most publishers involved and display content on most devices this could be quite useful.

But, and this is a big but, there seems no place for libraries in all this. Everything is based around the individual  and their Google account. I suppose we just have to wait for the ultimate resolution of the Google Book Settlement and the final  cost of the institutional subscription.