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06 December 2010 @ 08:51 pm
I feel a great disturbance in the ebook market...  
So Google's gone and done it, they've entered the bookselling market.  Up til now, you could use Google Books to read some scans of out of print stuff, and do some great searches on it.  But today they launched their much anticipated (well, by Google at least, if not anyone else in particular) bookstore.  Of course, need I remind you this is the company that seems to have conflated the concepts of out of print with public domain?  The one that pissed off a lot of authors by trying to assert the right to scan in and provide copyrighted works as if they were free to use?  Yeah, them.  So amidst all the ooohing an aaaahing about how nice it is that Google is now in this market space, I think perhaps folks should keep the Google Book Settlement in mind.

In any case, yes, the big G is now a book retailer.  Or etailer.  Or whatever buzzword of the day is.  It means you can purchase books through a site that will help you search for the books you might want to buy.  Yeah, even I can see how that'd be quite useful from their perspective.  I don't know the fancy marketing terms enough to be sure, but I think that might fit what I've heard called Pull marketing.  Okay, enough making it sound like I'm villifying Google, because I'm not.  I'm mostly pretty neutral on that front.

It's curious to say the least that they aren't supporting out of the gate the Mobi/PRC file format that would allow Kindle users to read these books.   Anyone out there really believe that a major computer programming company that can turn the entire world on its ear and take over an already crowded marketspace to the point that they are THE dominant force in search engines think that they just couldn't manage to handle a file format?  Yeah, me neither.  So okay, looks like the big G is taking on the big A.  Well, that seems natural to me.  For all that iPAD may be dominating in device sales, Kindle still seems to be where the books themselves are selling.  Frankly, I don't believe that Apple has dislodged Kindle nearly so much as a lot of so called data seems to be working around the net suggests.  I think people are much more likely buying iPADs to play Angry Birds than they are to buy it as an ereader.  I wouldn't be surprised if more people use the B&N app to read books than use the native iBookstore.  Same for Kindle.  And as Google hasn't (yet) announced any device they intend to produce (why bother, let the manufacturers use Android underneath and pull in a license fee) the way to take on Amazon seems to be in the format wars.  Throw in on the side of ePUB, and you get all the competitors to Amazon on your side.  (Until they all realize that if you can buy your book from Google and read it on your Nook, why bother with B&N or any other source???) 

So we're back to format wars.   Yay fun.  I still don't know how this is going to pan out.  With so many against them, it seems hard to believe that Amazon won't cave and begin to support ePUB.  I mean, how hard can that really be?  They were able to add in PDF in response to consumer demand, can we really believe ePUB would be out of the question?  I doubt it.  But I don't know if that's going to be on the horizon any time soon.  So who will win this staring contest?  Amazon? Google?  Neither?

Oy.  I hate the waiting game.  But what other choice do we have?

So what do you think, is Google entering the ebook market a good thing or a bad thing, and why?
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Jon Gibbsjongibbs on December 7th, 2010 04:33 pm (UTC)
The more the merrier, I say :)
Edward Greavestemporus on December 8th, 2010 03:41 am (UTC)
I hope so. At least, I hope it will help. I just am not sure.
knittingknotsknittingknots on December 10th, 2010 03:42 pm (UTC)
The format war is why I haven't bought a e-reader yet. I do appreciate ebooks, but they are all going on my computer until I see how things resolve....

Edited at 2010-12-10 03:42 pm (UTC)
Edward Greavestemporus on December 10th, 2010 05:14 pm (UTC)
That's a not an unreasonable approach. You can get free apps for both B&N and Kindle easy enough, and thereby read most of the major formats with those two alone.

In some ways, you might be better off waiting. The price of the devices keeps trending downa and I don't think they've bottomed out just yet. I'm fairly confident they will get below $100. How much below, that's hard to say. Chances are, once this all shakes out, you'll have saved yourself a fair amount of money.
karen_w_newtonkaren_w_newton on December 10th, 2010 04:15 pm (UTC)
Competition is a good thing, but so far it doesn't seem to me that Google knows how to be a retailer. I posted about this on my own LJ. The emphasis on the "cloud" thing strikes me as a mistake. What made ebooks take off was downloading to an eReader and reading the book anywhere.

So, will this be another GMail (big hit) or another Google Wave (big bust)? Who can say?
Edward Greavestemporus on December 10th, 2010 05:19 pm (UTC)
They appear to be trying to ride the line. Yes, they emphasize that everything is "in the cloud" but in reality what they mean is that the book, and your purchase of the book, resides in the cloud. So, if your PC goes kaplooie, you can read it again from some other PC.

But you can download them to your e-reader. So you aren't losing out.

What frustrates me on this, is that they are pitching this as if it's some great special thing. Um. No. Google has now caught up with where Amazon and B&N were quite some time ago.
karen_w_newtonkaren_w_newton on December 10th, 2010 05:29 pm (UTC)
I agree! I said in my own post, it's not really any different. I don't know B&N, but I use Fictionwise and O'Reilly technical books, and I have the equivalent of my Kindle archive on both if. AND I can download again from all 3 of them. So what's the big whoop? It's Google, that's all!
paulwoodlin on December 10th, 2010 10:25 pm (UTC)
Two companies in the business will do more to keep each other honest than anything else. I certainly wouldn't trust either of them on their own.