Google’s New Bookstore Cracks Open the E-book Market
Google today launched its long-awaited electronic book store, called simply Google eBooks, with more than 3 million titles and 4,000 publishers participating as partners, including most of the major industry names. Independent booksellers will also be able to offer Google eBooks through a partnership with the American Booksellers’ Association, and the company is launching an affiliate network that will allow any website to do the same. The web giant’s offering — which is based on a “buy anywhere, read anywhere” philosophy — is likely to ramp up competition in the electronic book market, which until now has been dominated by Amazon and Apple.
James Crawford, director of engineering for the Google Books team, said the company has scanned in over 15 million books through its massive book-scanning project, which “makes us one of the largest libraries in the world.” In the Google eBook store, there will be 2.8 million books available to download free of charge, since they are in the public domain, and the rest will have a “buy” button next to them that takes readers directly to the eBook store. Google’s publishing partners include major names such as Random House, Simon & Schuster and Penguin, but also a range of smaller publishers and scholarly houses such as the Oxford University Press and Reed Elsevier.
Google will pay the publisher 52 percent of the list price if a title is sold through Google’s store, or 45 percent if it’s sold through the company’s retail partners, which include Powell’s and Alibris. The web giant said it did not take a stand on whether to accept the relatively new “agency model” for selling e-books (which was introduced when Apple joined the market with the iPad), in which the publisher gets to set the price in the e-book store, rather than letting the retailer choose. Less than 10 percent of Google’s publishing partners asked for an agency deal, but they represent over half of the best-sellers in the store, the company said, and they get 70 percent of the sale price.