Yesterday, Google launched its new retail and distribution channel for electronic books. They’ll offer titles from almost 4,000 publishers in the deal that splits book sales, with Google taking 30% and 70% going to the publisher. What’s really interesting is that independent bookstores will be able to sell ebooks through Google Books and their take on each sale is fairly generous by industry standards.
The clincher for Google Books is their open format. Unlike closed systems like Kindle, the Nook and Sony eReader, Google ebooks can be read on any device that has a browser. Ebooks purchased from Google Books will be stored on cloud servers and available anywhere in the world – as long as one has an Internet connection.
Will Google Books save the publishing industry or is there a new distribution system or technology lurking in the shadows, ready to reinvent the way we read and access books? Few predicted the runaway success that Apple would have with the iTunes music store, which came out of nowhere to become the top music distributor in the US in 2008.
The world is full of surprises.