Google to Challenge Amazon, Enter eBook Business
Google plans to sell eBooks directly by the end of 2009, putting it on a potential collision course with Amazon.com, which has dominated the news with its line of Kindle eReader devices. Google has previously made moves in the eBook space, joining with Sony to release hundreds of thousands of public-domain eBooks onto Sony's eReader. Analysts have noted that the eReader space will only become more crowded as more companies try to capitalize on the trend.Google plans to sell eBooks through its sites by the end of 2009, the company announced at the annual BookExpo convention in New York.
By opening eBooks to be sold and then ported onto a variety of electronic devices, Google puts itself in competition with Amazon.com, which has dominated the news with its line of Kindle devices, and companies such as Sony, also in the eReader game.
According to The New York Times report, Tom Turvey, director of strategic partnerships at Google, indicated that Google would let publishers set prices, and likely allow them to charge the same for digital editions as paper-based versions. The eBooks would be available to any device with Internet access.
While Amazon.com CEO Jeff Bezos has very publicly refused to announce sales figures for the Kindle line, Doug Anmuth of Barclays Capital estimated that the device would rack up $1.2 billion in sales in 2010 and $3.7 billion in 2012, or roughly 10 percent of Amazon.com's total sales and profits. Bezos has said previously that Kindle-related sales brought in 35 percent of the company's book-related revenue.
Analysts have been noting the increasing crowdedness of the eReader market, with many incoming companies attempting to knock Amazon.com from its perch. "Competitors will attack Amazon's market position by launching new features, expanding content beyond books, dominating markets outside the U.S., reducing costs, and improving relationships with publishers," Sarah Rotman Epps, an analyst with Forrester, wrote in a May 27 research report. "While frequent book readers drive device and content sales today, the next five years will see an explosion of the eReader textbook market," Epps added in the report, "and in 10 years, the market will be driven by businesses going green in government, education, health and other sectors." Epps cites consumers embracing mobile media and eCommerce, as well as devices with an improved convenience factor, as the reasons why eReaders are gaining greater traction with the public at large. In the report, she refers to Amazon.com's Kindle as a "killer app" with regard to eReaders. However, the eReader playing field is seeing a rush of new players, as Sony, FirstPaper, Plastic Logic, Apple, Google and potentially newspaper publishers try to seize their own corners of the market.