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Google to sell e-books in 2009

updated 08:55 am EDT, Mon June 1, 2009

Google e-book Sales

Google this weekend signaled its plans to offer paid e-books through its site. The approach would let users effectively "unlock" books and view them over the web; offline reading will rely on browser caching. While potentially less convenient than downloads, the approach is said by Google senior partnership director Tom Turvey to avoid creating a "silo" that limits access and should let smartphones as well as any other devices with sufficiently advanced browsers read the text.

In contrast to Amazon's Kindle store, Google would give publishers control over both the raw price as well as the final, buyer-facing price; Amazon typically controls this last price and has at times drawn complaints from publishers whose profit margins are cut sharply. The search engine giant nonetheless warns that it may force changes for "exorbitant" prices.

Google hopes to launch its paid e-book sales before the end of the year but hasn't said what kind of copy protection, if any, it would use.

The involvement of Google brings a rare large competitor against Amazon and also represents a movement away from proprietary standards, which often keep users dependent on particular hardware or software. Kindle buyers need to use either one of Amazon's e-book readers or the iPhone app. Google has already offered books but, until now, has been limited to public domain titles.

By Electronista Staff


  1. doctorwinters

    Fresh-Faced Recruit

    Joined: Sep 2008


    not quite true

    Actually Amazon pays publishers their 35% fee or (or whatever it is) on the Digital List Price, not the discounted price. Amazon eats the difference and is actually losing money on many books. When the DLP is $25, Amazon discounts it to 9.99 and pays 35% of $25.00 to the publisher. The publishers who say Amazon is cheating them by discounting their books in order to grow market share are flat out lying.

  1. testudo

    Forum Regular

    Joined: Aug 2001


    what a shock

    Publishers complaining that digital distribution is cutting into their profit margins and whining that the prices are too low. Talk about deja vu. It's like I've heard all this before...

    I'm sure if it were up to the publishers, they would argue that the consumer should pay more, due to the convenience of not having to go to a store, or carry around a physical book, or being able to buy it on the spot. Again, where have I heard this all before??? Seriously, I might be psychic!

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