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.