Wednesday, December 1, 2010

Morning Brief: The Crazy; Google Editions nears launch

Was there something going around yesterday. You know, some virus that made media writers a bit ... crazy.

I was going to do a round-up of all the positively insane stories there were posted yesterday -- like the two wonderful examples about Richard Branson's Project iPad magazine, what exactly is "digital harmony" anyway? -- but decided that since the crazy is pretty much the norm now in our US media industry it isn't really news when someone writes about the end of Apple, or that tablet magazines are a waste of time. It is simply just another day in medialand.

The WSJ reports that Google is "in the final stages of launching its long-awaited e-book retailing venture".

I've always thought people were overestimating the significance of Apple's move into the book market with its iBooks store. To me, someone who has had Apple products since before the Mac, I see iBooks as one of those features that are important to its new tablet. That is, if Amazon didn't create a Kindle app at least the iPad would still have a way to bring in books.

I'm a huge fan of Amazon. I use the online store and I use the Kindle app on my iPad. I'm satisfied.

Now here comes Google Editions.

I admit that I don't yet fully understand their model (definitely read the WSJ story for more background) but this quote from a bookseller does peak my interest:
"Google is going to turn every Internet space that talks about a book into a place where you can buy that book," says Dominique Raccah, publisher and owner of Sourcebooks Inc., an independent publisher based in Naperville, Ill. "The Google model is going to drive a lot of sales. We think they could get 20% of the e-book market very fast."
The issue I see here is "what demand are they fulfilling?" It is much easier to enter a market where customers are current dissatisfied with their choices. Are consumers unhappy with traditional booksellers and online sellers like Amazon?

Here is Google's own definition of its soon to arrive service:

Google Editions is an upcoming program that will allow consumers to easily purchase and read digital editions of books. Consumers will be able to preview a book, as they do today in Google Books, and will also have the option to purchase its Google Edition. After purchase, the book will live in the consumer's online bookshelf, available to be accessed and read on most devices with internet access and a web browser; as well as on supported partner devices (to be announced during our public launch).