Tuesday, May 4, 2010

Google announces it will launch digital book service by summer; FTC may oppose Google and Apple moves

The WSJ is reporting that Google is getting into the book sales business starting this summer. The announcement, by Chris Palma, Strategic Partner Development Manager for Google, was made at an event held at the offices of Random House called "The Book on Google: Is the Future of Publishing in the Cloud?"

(Random House is one of the few major book publishers who have so far not inked a deal with Apple to appear in the company's iBooks store.)
The new service will be called Google Editions and will allow users to buy digital editions of the books they find in its search service -- even if that book comes from a retailer of independent shop.

The idea may sound new to some, but this is an old story of creating an online service that allows the publisher to take a cut of the transactions that take place through that site. The idea was that the mere creation of the online site would facilitate sales, and the owner of the site would take a percentage.

Here, Google is saying that they will create a search marketplace for books and that sales can be directly transacting at the search results -- with Google taking its piece of the revenue.

The question is why books? Certainly the same principal at play here would apply across the board. One answer to that question may be Google's desire to win the right to distribute the millions of out-of-print books. A case currently resides in a Manhattan federal court where U.S. District Judge Denny Chin is set to rule on whether Google can proceed with digitizing millions of books for its Google Book Search -- it has already scanned over seven million books.

For more background on the legal case involving Google, orphan works, and the ramifications of the battle over public domain works, read this FAQ at Wired.

Word is that the FTC may end up opposing Google's acquisition of AdMob. Dan Frommer writes a compelling column arguing for approval but cries of monopoly! are increasingly being heard in regard to Google.

Many think Apple's acquisition of Quattro Wireless and the creation of its iAd platform would smooth the way for Apple. But instead Apple faces its own scrutiny over both its mobile ad plans as well as its software development agreements.