Google appears to be throwing down the gauntlet in the e-book market.
In discussions with publishers at the annual BookExpo convention in New York over the weekend, Google signaled its intent to introduce a program by that would enable publishers to sell digital versions of their newest books direct to consumers through Google. The move would pit Google against Amazon.com, which is seeking to control the e-book market with the versions it sells for its Kindle reading device.
Google’s move is likely to be welcomed by publishers who have expressed concerns about the possibility that Amazon will dominate the market for e-books with its aggressive pricing strategy. Amazon offers Kindle editions of most new best-sellers for $9.99, a price far lower than the typical $26 at which publishers sell new hardcovers. oks with its aggressive pricing strategy. Amazon offers Kindle editions of most new best-sellers for $9.99, a price far lower than the typical $26 at which publishers sell new hardcovers. In early discussions, Google has said it would allow publishers to set a suggested list price, but that Google would ultimately set consumer prices.
Mr. Turvey said that with books, Google planned to sell readers online access to digital versions of various titles. When offline, Mr. Turvey said, readers would still be able to access their electronic books in cached versions on their browsers.
Via Ars Technica
In contrast, Google is apparently offering to allow publishers to set the prices, and the content will be accessible from anything that has an Internet connection; cached material will allow offline reading. Google already has made scanned books available for the Sony Reader, for example. Although this program will be managed separately from the content handled by the book settlement, there’s no reason that Google wouldn’t present the two classes of content through a similar interface. According to The Times, some publishers were happy to see another option become available. Google is apparently telling them that the service will go live before the year is out.
Eoin Purcell also writes about this move on his blog…
My thinking on this is that letting publishers set the price is a goo way to steal a march back from Kindle and Amazon. For one thing it will give them a greater sense of control and allow them to do the experimenting with price, a very valuable tool considering how tight Amazon is being with info and data about Kindle sales. Michael Cairns has a short but chilling post on this. Secondly if one platform allows pricing and another doesn’t and the publishers can make sales through the Google platform anyway, then the Kindle might well wither and die as publishers pull their titles. last but not least, if Google look to retain a lower percentage of revenue (Say 30-40%) than Amazon currently do, the prices may well shift lower naturally as publishers seek to attract sales.