updated 03:45 pm EDT, Fri August 21, 2009
AZon MS Yhoo Fight Google
Amazon, Microsoft and Yahoo made conscious moves to thwart Google on Friday with word all three are joining the Open Book Alliance. Created independently by the Internet Archive, the group is resisting the outcome of a copyright dispute that has resulted in Google creating a Book Rights Registry that would see it manage many digital books' rights and let it publish digital versions of books with unknown publishing rights. The Alliance claims the registry would give Google too much control over e-books and hurt literature in the future.
They also raise privacy concerns as Google's control of millions of books would let the firm theoretically abuse its position by tracking users' habits.
Google has countered the stance by accusing the new members of being afraid of more competition and noting that many of the books it would be converting to digital form have been out of print for decades. The search engine pioneer also claims that its revenue split, which sees it take a flat 30 percent cut of revenues, should be favorable to authors.
Google already has control over hundreds of thousands of books in the public domain and has lately used this to get a foothold in the e-book world by granting access to these books to Sony as well as Barnes & Noble. Microsoft and Yahoo currently have very little stake in e-books to date, while Amazon's criticism has been somewhat muted by its insistence on a proprietary format for the Kindle that prevents any rival from using the same books.
Microsoft's entrance into the alliance marks it as one of the first major computer software developers to enter into e-books in earnest. Its common challenger Apple famously dismissed e-books when CEO Steve Jobs claimed there was no pressure for an e-reader as "people don't read anymore."