Contemplating the Google-book

sony readerAccording to a report in the NY Times, Google is preparing to enter the e-book market and take on Amazon.   The delivery platform is unclear, but it does not appear that Google is favoring any particular e-book device at this time.  Details are also lacking about whether Google would support open standards or take a proprietary approach.  The e-book pricing hasn’t been finalized, but Google has hinted it would probably be more open than say with the Amazon Kindle. 

So let’s say that Google jumps into the e-book market in a major way.  How might this change the market?  Here are some speculations.

Google links e-books with Book Search.  While Google has said it has no plans to do this, it certainly is a strong possibility.  Books scanned today as PDFs can be scanned into e-book formats just as easily.  Search – view – purchase – download.  Seems logical.

Google becomes the Book Scan of e-books.  With its own reader or in partnership with reader manufacturers, Google tracks not only what e-books readers browse and purchase, but how they read them after purchase (think Google Analytics with a “phone home” capability).  Publishers use the anonym-ized information to better understand what readers really want.

Google redefines the e-book experience.  Again, with its own reader or in partnership with reader manufacturers, Google provides a more connected reading experience where book lovers can share what they’re reading with others online.  

Google embeds advertising in books.  Print books today often have a page or two in the back showcasing similar books of interest.  It wouldn’t be a stretch to include a Book Search type of capability in an e-book.  A connected reader could view the preview and make the purchase / download immediately.

Google becomes a publisher.  Google could provide tools to make it easy for authors to publish and market their works directly as e-books.  Absurd you say.  A short while ago you might have said it was absurd to think Google would be a bookseller. 


Growth in e-book revenues (data from IDPF, AAP)

Books in aggregate represent one of the largest storehouses of information on the planet.  Yet most of the information in books is not accessible to us online.  Google has the resources to tap into and monetize this infotopia.  Whether it willor not remains to be seen.  According to a recent Forrester report, the e-book market is ready to go mainstream and break out of its current niche status.  My only hope is that if Google is igoing to take the plunge, they do so boldly

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