And so the Googlization of the world continues. Google announced it would enter the e-book market by letting publishers sell online-access only to their books via the great search engine, as the Wall Street Journal reports. This is key:
Google spokesman Gabriel Stricker said consumers would not be able to download books in the same way Amazon's customers can buy copies of specific titles and store them on their Kindle. Instead, people who access books through Google would be able to read titles online and temporarily cache them in their Internet browsers so they could also read them offline.
And this is also interesting:
Google said it would allow publishers to set their own prices, although the company reserved the right to discount titles at its own expense.
In other words: the books go - probably as html not pdf - onto Google servers, Google collects all manner of usage stats, Google (not the publisher) sets the retails price, conceivably Google runs ads along the content, at a minimum it promotes the books in its search results.
I remember awhile back when newspaper companies were eagerly signing up to have Google and Yahoo take care of their online advertising. I thought that was a bad idea because they were basically handing their customer relationships off to giant multinationals -- and paying for the privilege.
Amazon on the other hand preserves the publisher's branding, cover design, page presentation, and the integrity of the book as a whole unit. More to the point, it preserves the publishers' relationship with their customers.
Oh, and by the way, this is being spun as a way to make publishers happier about the Book Search Settlement, which would give Google exclusive access to publishers' copyright work without having to license it. Publishers should be less than thrilled at this development.