Google Editions on the way…….

Could Google change the ebook market?

Now, I’m well-known for being a bit of a fan of the Sony Reader and not so keen on the Kindle.  The reason for this?  I think that all the players in the ebook market should gather around ePub as the standard format for ebooks.  Sony has certainly got onboard with this, Apple sort of have, but Amazon so far have not.  The main drawback to being a non-Kindle fan?  The price of compatible ebooks.  Sadly, well for me anyway, Amazon offers fairly good deals on ebooks (although this may come to an end with increased agency pricing – see earlier post).  Owners of Sony Readers on the other hand are stuck with slightly more expensive ebooks via Waterstone’s or WHSmiths.  Although I shouldn’t forget that ePub is also the format that library ebooks are delivered in – that’s quite important! Well, there could be some good news coming after Christmas.

It looks very likely that Google are going to announce details of their (much delayed) Google Editions service after Christmas.  From InformationWeek:

Google Editions are digital books with digital copying restrictions; they look like what’s currently offered through Google Books.

Purchasing a Google Edition will give the buyer the ability to access that book from most devices that support Web browsers and devices offered by an as yet undisclosed set of supported device partners. This marks a significant point of differentiation from Apple and Amazon, which limit purchased e-books to proprietary hardware.

In another departure from what Apple and Amazon are doing, Google is taking a federated approach, allowing Authorized Resellers to sell Google Editions through their own online book selling sites.

Pretty good news, and could almost certainly prove a serious challenge to Amazon if it takes off (Google Wave anyone??).  What makes this all the more exciting is that Google has already done a deal with Sony for its scanned Google Books, and that deal is likely to be extended to Editions too.  This means that Google Editions books may also be downloaded onto a Sony Reader, as well as iPads and iPhones.  Really good news for Sony Reader owners.

Of course, a lot can change between now and the launch, but it is an exciting prospect.  Let’s just hope it isn’t another Google flop akin to Wave.  That would be really disappointing.

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