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Print 13 comment(s) - last by Oregonian2.. on Jun 1 at 4:42 PM

Google looks to take Amazon on in digital book industry

Print publications like newspapers and magazines are finding that the digital age is making it hard for traditional printed media to compete. Consumers can get the same news online faster and free in most instances. The traditional printed book is still doing well, though some companies are finding success with digital versions of novels and books.

The most successful seller of digital books is Amazon, but the digital books are mostly tied to its proprietary Kindle device. An iPhone application is offered that will allow reading digital books on the small iPhone screen.

Over the weekend, Google announced that it was ready to take Amazon on in force in the digital book market according to the New York Times. Google held discussions with major publishers at the Book Expo convention in New York.

Google will offer a new program that allows publishers to sell digital versions of their books directly to consumers though Google. The program would put Google in direct competition with Amazon. The Google offering could prove to be more popular with publishers that Amazon's program because Google says it will allow publishers to set their own pricing for books.

Amazon charges a flat fee of $9.99 for each digital book. The NYT reports that the average hard cover book sells for $26, significantly more than Amazon’s fee. Amazon reportedly takes a loss on each digital book it sells.

David Young CEO of Hachette Book Group said, "Clearly, any major company coming into the e-book space, providing that we are happy with the pricing structure, the selling price and the security of the technology, will be a welcome addition."

Google is already in the digital book publishing business in one way. The search giant has scanned over seven million books from university libraries with a major portion of the scanned titles being those that are out of print.

The NYT reports that the e-book retail program would be a separate program from the book-scanning project, which has come under fire from the Justice Department for antitrust implications.



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But does Google have a Reader?
By Bateluer on 6/1/2009 9:51:30 AM , Rating: 2
Amazon has the Kindle, a highly popular device with good features, only hampered by its DRM and high price tag. If Google wants to go toe to toe with it, they'll need an e-book reader themselves, one with a lower price tag and less restrictive DRM.




By DerekMorr on 6/1/2009 11:19:23 AM , Rating: 2
IIRC, not all Kindle books have DRM. I believe it's up to the publisher if they wish to use it.


RE: But does Google have a Reader?
By elgoliath on 6/1/2009 11:47:19 AM , Rating: 2
Just release an iPhone/iTouch app, just like Amazon did with the Kindle.


RE: But does Google have a Reader?
By lecanard on 6/1/2009 12:17:29 PM , Rating: 2
But the iPhone app's not a real reader. E-ink is not comparable to LCD screens. The iPhone app is a nice convenience for reading a little when you have a couple minutes to wait during the day, but not how you actually want to read books. An app can't compete with Kindle.

Anyway, it seems that google's strategy is to let the publisher charge more than Amazon. Why would consumers switch to that? Are they expecting all publishers to ditch Amazon?


By Oregonian2 on 6/1/2009 4:37:45 PM , Rating: 2
Yes, the head honcho of PC Magazine also hasn't figured out that the Kindle is a product for book readers, not a book application for electronic-toy people (like he is). And the Kindle does its job very very very well (I'm one who thought like the PC Mag. guy, but who had my head corrected and put on straight). The e-ink display makes all the difference in the world (with the integrated FREE no-monthly-fee 3G data cell phone built-in).

The article above says the books are $10 flat fee from Amazon -- that's not true. Yes, most top listed books are that price, but not all. There are some Kindle books for as much as $6K or so that have been found. Also are promotional freebies such as the new WONDERFUL cookbook from the Cook's Illustrated folk. :-)

Google may appeal to the book publishers more than Amazon. Amazon more appeals to the end-user-buyer. TBD which is more important.


Renting
By DigitalFreak on 6/1/2009 9:59:39 AM , Rating: 5
I'd be all over the Kindle or a similar Google device if they would allow you to RENT books. Kind of like a cross between the library and Netflix. I can't imagine it would be that hard to do with the Kindle, since it already has the communications system built in.




RE: Renting
By usg on 6/1/2009 10:29:13 AM , Rating: 2
A digital library with monthly book subscription like $20 a month! The books may have expiration built in so that there is no need to check in. I love the idea!


RE: Renting
By armagedon on 6/1/2009 10:36:19 AM , Rating: 1
Long live the flood of cracked ebooks on PirateBay !


What I want...
By haxxorboi on 6/1/2009 11:11:59 AM , Rating: 2
As a college student paying in excess of $300 a semester, over $1000 total for my last school year, all I want is an online text book rental service that has the wealth of books that a normal paper publisher can boast. Then I could directly rent/buy my books, skipping the hell that is college bookstores. Without the need for hardcover, full color ink paged books the price would drop to a level reasonable for one of the poorest and most indebted populations, students.

Unfortunately I don't see my dream coming true anytime soon because of the fact that publishers and bookstores make so much money on this crap. I paid over $150 this semester for one used psychology book, which I then returned after finding it for rent on Chegg for $10.

Basically, I want Chegg's convenience and price in a more direct and digital format so I can read it on my laptop instead of carrying the paperweight around with me. It'd save money on shipping and also be "Green" if you're into that. Maybe Google will be the one to do this? I hope so!




RE: What I want...
By acase on 6/1/09, Rating: 0
RE: What I want...
By Etsp on 6/1/2009 12:02:04 PM , Rating: 2
Unfortunately, the issues you are having are part of what's wrong with the College Education System today... many professors get extra income by either: Forcing students to buy their book; or by Forcing students to buy someone else's book, and get a kickback from those sales...

Many upper level educators would fight such a rental service every step of the way...


RE: What I want...
By Oregonian2 on 6/1/2009 4:42:00 PM , Rating: 2
Actually I think what you want is one of the directives behind the new Kindle DX that's in "pre-ordering" stage now. I think they've some student trials set up in a number of schools.

TBD long term if they can get the publishers lined up, etc. Ideally they'd have a DRM such that they "rent" all the books for just the semester needed (or quarter, etc) and that they all just download "automatically", with maybe an option to buy if appropriate.


ebooks
By tarunafish on 6/1/09, Rating: -1
"Nowadays, security guys break the Mac every single day. Every single day, they come out with a total exploit, your machine can be taken over totally. I dare anybody to do that once a month on the Windows machine." -- Bill Gates

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