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Monday, December 6, 2010

Google Goes eBook

Google today launched Google eBooks and the Google eBookstore, as reported in Computerworld.com.

This is their "long-anticipated cloud-based system to allow readers to buy e-books online from a choice of booksellers and to read them with a variety of devices," according to the copyrighted CW article by Matt Hamblen.

"Readers will access their e-books like messages in Gmail or photos in Picasa using a free password protected Google account that comes with unlimited e-books storage.

"They will be able to purchase them from the Google eBookstore or from independent bookseller partners as well, (product manager of Google Books Abraham) Murray said.

"As part of the Google eBooks announcement, Adobe Systems announced that its Content Server 4 software will provide digital rights management for the new system. Up to 85 devices across many platforms supporting Adobe eBook DRM will be able to access Google eBooks, using PDF and ePub formats. The Adobe software is a part of the Google eBooks system being used by more than 200 book publishers and sellers"

Just this morning, I heard a report on the news that Google's Android OS was about to catch up to the Apple iOS in market share (Blackberry is losing share but remains, for the moment, the market leader). I'm involved with a company that has a new Tablet PC that's about to launch (my first ever "TV commercial" is up on YouTube) and we went with the Android OS because of its utter ubiquity (another win for Android's open architecture). Now, with Android's momma Google in the eBook biz, you can bet it's going to be easier than ever to access and buy eBooks on everything from your Android Smartphone to your ICAN! 10" or 7" Tablet PC with Android OS (especially when the updated OS optimized for Tablet PC devices is released early next year).

This also puts Google on a direct competitive crash course with Amazon in which some analysts think the Little Search Engine That Kicked Everybody's Tuchus could have a distinct edge: "'All Google has to do is train people away from going to Amazon when they have a book-related search question,' (Forrester analyst James McQuivey) said. 'Even if they are interested in new books, Google can give you samples of copyrighted books and say, "Is this what you are looking for?"" 

Could this lead to price slashing of the sort that's already happening in the Big Box Store hard-copy book market between retailers, which many authors fear could devalue the very concept of "book" and drive the price of books (and therefore our royalties) down permanently?

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