It’s been about half a year since we last heard about Google’s foray into the eBook market and at the time they were hoping to launch the service by late Summer (obviously that never came to pass), but according to a new report from the Wall Street Journal they have almost closed out the necessary deals to launch in the U.S. by the end of the month and internationally in Q1 2011.
The eBook market is projected by Forrester Research to reach nearly a billion dollars this year, so this isn’t small game that Google is hunting and their trepidation in entering the fray before they have all the details worked out is understandable.
The last we heard of Google Editions the speculation was that they would be launching with over 4 million titles in their library, which eclipses what is currently available on other eBook platforms. The new report doesn’t specifically confirm that count, but they do reference similar figures with hundreds of thousands of paid titles available at launch with millions of others available for free.
Google is taking a different tact from the other eBook sellers by giving users the freedom to read their content anywhere that they have a browser. Purchases will be made through Google or through online retailers, such as independent bookstores, and all of the purchases will aggregate under the users Google account. This isn’t to say that there won’t be apps created to view your Editions content, but locking users into apps is not the focus. Their primary intent with Editions is going to be to make eBooks available from any location on the web that discusses books.
Fortunately or unfortunately, the pricing for the books should be comparable to that found through Amazon, Barnes & Noble, Borders, etc…. Booksellers that utilize the service will receive a percentage of the sale. Obviously the large booksellers are unlikely to sign on for this, but the independent sellers could definitely flock to this as their only potential chance for a piece of the eBook market.
Now as I said previously the Google Editions platform is OS agnostic so this isn’t an Android only piece of news, but I do see a couple ways in which Editions could help evangelize for Android. First, while it is great that you will be able to read these eBooks on any device the reality is that a device designed for the purpose is going to be the more popular option so it will likely fuel additional Android tablet sales as they will be the least expensive fully featured tablet experience in 2011. Second, people becoming accustomed to buying digital content through the Google ecosystem can only help the sale of Android apps.
Do you see Google Editions as helpful for Android?