Google eBooks Eyes Amazon Kindle, Apple iPad with 3M Titles

By Clint Boulton  |  Posted 2010-12-06

Google eBooks Eyes Amazon Kindle, Apple iPad with 3M Titles

Google Dec. 6 launched Google eBooks, the company's effort to offer books online for purchase and free as an alternative to existing services from Amazon, Apple and Barnes & Noble.

Consumers will be able to search among 3 million titles from the EBookstore, which will complement the existing Google Books platform the company launched in 2004 to help organize the world's books online.

eBooks, which will support the ePub and PDF formats, will include a Web reader to help users read indexed books from any device that supports a modern Web browser, including computers, tablets and smartphones.

Users may consume Google eBook titles on Amazon's Kindle e-reader device, but only for titles without digital rights management, as Amazon sports its own content protection environment for its books. eBooks will be readily readable on the Sony Reader and Barnes & Noble Nook e-reading device.

Google will also offer free applications to let users access eBooks from devices running Google's Android operating system, such as smartphones and tablets, and Apple's iOS, including the iPad and iPhone. The Android app is available here, while the app for iOS devices is available for download here.

Of those 3 million titles Google will offer, hundreds of thousands will be offered for purchase, including George W. Bush's new Decision Points. These will be provided by Google's 4,000-plus publisher partners, including Random House Macmillan, Simon & Schuster, Harper Collins and McGraw Hill.

Google has negotiated revenue splits on a publisher-by-publisher basis but won't disclose those percentage breakdowns, Scott Dougall, product management director for eBooks, told eWEEK. It is believed Google will mostly pay most publishers 52 percent of the list price for sales made on the eBookstore Website.

More than 2 million-plus book titles will be free, public domain classics users may already see snippets of on the Google Books search platform. This will include Jane Austen's Pride and Prejudice and Great Expectations by Charles Dickens.

Google Faces Competition from Amazon, Apple

The Google Books search platform will continue to surface results for books, with links on search results Web pages to let users purchase books from retailers. The Google eBooks store will be one of the choices where users can purchase titles.

Google will not sell ads on the eBooks store through AdWords or AdSense, Dougall said.

Google also sports a retailer and affiliate program, making the titles it offers from publishers available through online bookstores such as Powell's in Portland, Ore.

This retail channel also includes the more than 200 independent bookstores that are part of the American Booksellers Association that will sell Google eBooks from their online stores.

Revenues incurred from sales of books through affiliate partners will be split between the reseller, the publisher and Google. Dougall declined to specify what these splits were.

Google is entering a super competitive market for ebook sales, where Amazon and Apple are currently the top providers.

Amazon offers 750,000-plus titles for purchase for its Kindle, which starts at $149. Apple offers the iBooks application for its iPad, backed by 60,000 titles in its iBookstore.

ChangeWave Research polled 2,800 consumers and found the iPad's share of the e-reader market had expanded from 16 percent to 32 percent between August and November, while the Kindle's dipped from 62 percent to 47 percent.

Barnes & Noble's Nook platform holds 4 percent of the market, a shade behind Sony Reader, which holds 5 percent.

While Google eBooks offers more titles, it is still starting from scratch against 4 established players.

Google had wanted to get the platform out the door this summer. Dougall attributed the delay to the challenge of trying to offer an open-platform alternative to the existing services.


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