It should get interesting.
It’s not exactly been a secret that this was coming.
Last August, Google announced they were offering free downloads of more than one million books hat are in the public domain and then in October, they revealed that they would be launching Google Editions with about 500,000 additional titles.
And last month, in The New Yorker, reporter Ken Auletta laid out some of the details:
“Google Editions will let publishers set the price of their books (the head of Google Editions) said and will accept the agency model. Having already digitized twelve million books, including out-of-print titles, Google will have a far greater selection than Amazon or Apple. It will also make e-books available for bookstores to sell, giving “the vast majority” of revenues to the store.”
In the beginning, though, it appears that that the only books Google might only be able to sell are those in the public domain.
They are still involved in a long-running court battle, trying to get approval to move forward with their plans for Google Books, which would display books that are copyrighted but out of print along with with books that have eetered the public domain.
Google’s plans had been challenged by the Author’s Guild and the Association of American Publishers. While there was a settlement, it has not been approved as the judge considers objections including some from the Department of Justice, which has concerns over several issues including anti-trust.
And even if they get approval, there does seem to be at least one more hurdle — last month several groups representing visual artists announced plans to challenge Google’s plans.
Another issue is that it’s being reported that Google does not yet have deals in place with publishers.
Regardless of potential roadblocks, this development has the potential to be tougher on Amazon than on Apple because Google Editions seems closer in design to Kindle than IPad in that while the IPad is a device, Kindle is software that works on multiple devices.
But — even more at risk from this latest news are actual bookstores, you know the kind you walk into where you can handle the books and interact with people.
Don’t get me wrong, I’m all for books being available for purchase online (just check my bank statements). At the same time, I am concerned that the more book sales take place over the Internet, the less they are taking place in stores.
And when that happens, you start reading about bookstores closing.
So, as Google Editions gets set to launch and IPad and Kindle and Nook battle it out and new readers keep coming on the market, try to break away from the screen every once in a while and head down to your local bookstore (if you still have one, if you don’t a chain will do), peruse the shelves, buy a magazine, a book, something.