Google Editions: an e-book store that's "not evil"

Google has announced its e-book wholesale store, Google Editions. It claims to be more open and industry-inclusive, in a snub to Amazon's Kindle model. In IT Blogwatch, bloggers give it a cautious welcome.

By Richi Jennings. October 16, 2009.

Your humble blogwatcher selected these bloggy morsels for your enjoyment. Not to mention the speaking piano...
Jacqui Cheng explains what la Goog is up to now:

Booksellers looking for another avenue to hawk their wares online will be able to do so next year through Google. ... Its new service, Google Editions, [will] launch at the beginning of 2010 with around half a million books ... [It supports] a variety of devices, including ... computers and mobile phones, and possibly even e-book readers.
Google is passing itself off as a book "wholesaler," not a distributor. ... [It's] meant to allow retail partners to sell books online and that the company doesn't expect to be a go-to source for digital distribution. ... Not only can customers buy books from publishers through Google, they can also buy books from Amazon and Barnes and Noble through Google Editions. ... Google insists, however, that it has no plans to dive into the e-book reader market—that will be left for Amazon, Sony, and (probably) Barnes and Noble to battle out.

Terrence O'Brien adds:

As with everything Google does, the company will host the electronic texts on its own servers, make them searchable, allow customers to access them from almost any Web-capable device, and provide the books in an open format that can be loaded onto any e-book reader. That openness is seen as a direct challenge to the dominance of Amazon and the walled garden that is its Kindle ecosystem.
Google will have to find some way to break through the noise. 'Kindle' has quickly become synonymous with 'e-reader,' much as the iPod has with 'MP3 player.' There's also the still unresolved suit jointly filed by the American Association of Publishers and the Authors Guild over Google's scanning and indexing of 10 million books through partnerships with libraries. And even if the U.S. lawsuit is settled, European trade groups may follow with legal challenges of their own..

Paul Miller compares and contrasts:

The store will offer somewhere in the range of 400,000 and 600,000 books (compared to the 100,000ish offered by Sony and the 330,000+ on Kindle), and prices will be set by publishers, with Google collecting 55 percent of the profits and supposedly sharing much of that with "retail partners".

Jack McKeown says not tying it to a device is a good plan:

But the truth about e-reader sales may prove more elusive, and more nuanced, than the supply-side enthusiasts (principally manufacturers of the various devices, e-commerce pundits, and other early-adopter types) care to admit.
In such an unsettled environment, normally pragmatic, early-majority consumers may be reluctant to commit to a $259 reading device. A “wait-and-see” attitude may prove the most amiable reaction, particularly among avid book buyers who remain unconvinced of the e-readers’ ultimate utility and value.

Sean P. Aune agrees, enthusiastically:

The biggest boon to this store is going to be the fact it can be read on so many devices.  With Kindle books being limited due to their format, it is almost a certainty that Amazon has lost out on potential sales due to people not wanting to pay hundreds of dollars for the brand-specific device.  Ebooks that can be read on just about any device?  Sign me up.

But John Herrman has a longer memory:

"This time we mean it" was the last declaration Google made about their plans to open an eBook store, set to launch before then end of 2009. And hey, it looks like they did! Well, except for that 2009 part.

So what's your take?
Get involved: leave a comment.

And finally...

Richi Jennings, your humble blogwatcher
  Richi Jennings is an independent analyst/consultant, specializing in blogging, email, and security. A cross-functional IT geek since 1985, he is also an analyst at Ferris Research. You can follow him as @richi on Twitter, or richij on FriendFeed, pretend to be richij's friend on Facebook, or just use good old email:

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