Google has confirmed it will launch an e-book retailing endeavor, but was light on details.
A representative from Google confirmed the company intends to launch an e-book product by the end of the year, but would not say more than that.
Some information has come to light. According to a report from The Wall St. Journal, Google Editions will launch by the end of the year. It will be an open model, whereby consumers will be able to read their e-books from any device -- such as a tablet, PC, or smartphone -- and then add the book to a collection in their personal Google Editions account. The report says users will be able to buy books from Google's retail store or independent booksellers. The report says Google has already lined up a number of independent bookselling partners for Google Editions.
Currently, e-reader industry leader Amazon requires users of its Kindle to buy books from its store only. Kindle users' accounts, however, also allows for reading e-books on multiple devices via a software application.
Dmitriy Molchanov, e-reader analyst at The Yankee Group, says he does not think this move will hurt Amazon. The popularity of the Kindle, which represents 47 percent of the market according to ChangeWave research, as well as Amazon's closed eco-system approach, will make it hard for people to shift away from them he says. However, he does see Google Editions having an impact on other e-reader players in the industry.
I think what Google is doing is interesting. They are establishing an ecosystem that other players could tap into. If you're an independent bookseller, you could plug into Google Editions as a warehouse and sell any books in their storefront. I've also read they are also partnering with the New York Times and Wall St. Journal that if they put a link to Google Editions on their site, Google will pay a dividend off the sale of the book. It's an open eco system that's plugged in. I don't think Apple and Amazon have thought of that approach, Molchanov said.
Molchanov also said he thinks Google Editions could tie in nicely to the Android operating system based tablets that will likely come out in the beginning of next year. If Google Editions were a native application on those tablets, he says, that would expand its reach by a lot.
That could really hurt Apple in the long term he said.
One company that could say it has thought of the open platform approach to e-readers is Copia. The company, which is a part of the DMC Group of Companies, recently launched its own e-reading platform. Ben Lowinger, Copia's executive vice president, said while Google is preaching the same thing as Copia, the latter platform is more about social immersion than algorithms.
I think what they are doing enhances their offering from a market perspective. I think the front end of what we can provide in Copia is the social based transformative feature which makes reading that e-book not just a dry experience, Lowinger said.
With Copia, Lowinger says users can share insights and get recommendations with their friends, highlight important passages and join book groups. Whereas Google is looking to power stores, he says Copia is looking to create a social experience.
I think everyone can learn how Copia handles recommendations, the fact it's not just a recommendation based on data being collected from an algorithm. It's from friends who you trust, Lowinger said.
Despite these sentiments, he does not see Google as a competitor but rather as a strategic partner. He also said their entry in the marketplace will have a positive impact on industry pricing.