Google risked alienating book publishers and authors by indexing books and making them available online for free in the past. Now Google is redeeming itself in the eyes of book publishers by prepping an e-book store with less aggressive pricing standards than Amazon.
At the BookExpo in New York, Google signaled its intent to launch an online e-book store to compete with Amazon. Google Book Search currently provides links so that customers can purchase e-books through Barnes and Noble or Amazon.
Publishers are heralding the move as a way to open up competition in the e-book market. Hachette Chief Executive David Young says, “any major company coming into the e-book space, providing that we are happy with the pricing structure, the selling price and the security of the technology, will be a welcome addition.”
The main issue publishers have with Amazon’s Kindle Store is the pricing strategy. The Kindle Store sells virtually everything for $9.99 regardless of the actual cost of the book.
Hardcover releases typically run around $26 retail pricing and soft covers from $13-14. Amazon buys books in bulk and sells some at a loss to maintain its pricing.
Unfortunately this strategy makes it hard for publishers to maintain their pricing strategy across channels. This leaves publishers with the unfortunate choice of driving more sales to Amazon or pushing them to lower prices.
Until recently, Amazon and Kindles were synonymous with e-books. Amazon bet big by developing the hardware to launch the first e-book reader and store.
Now that there are other channels for e-books such as the Sony Reader and various iPhone e-reader applications, the market is ripe for competition. If Google’s marketplace works easily with all of these devices, it could make quite a splash in the e-book market.
Google recently gained experience with the digital download marketplace by launching the Android App Market. The App Market is a secure marketplace that already allows users to download pay applications over the Internet to their mobile device.