I dare say that if you’ve an interest in publishing as an industry, you’ve already heard that Google has announced its own ebook store will open late this year. A summary from Tomorrow’s Trends:
Google stated that it will allow publishers to set eBook prices. The cost of the eBook will probably be higher than Amazon’s current eBook prices.
This will certainly start a format war. Google does not have a dedicated eBook reader and I do not see them getting into the eBook hardware game. This will push companies to create eBook readers that will connect to Google’s new store. Certainly Amazon is ahead of everyone in regards to ease of use and the ability to download eBooks via a wireless connection. Hopefully this will give all of us multiple choices on purchasing eBooks.
Credit where it’s due, the Big G knows the value of biding its time for the right moment. This is the game-changing announcement that I’ve been expecting for the last nine months, the potential trigger for an explosive growth phase in ebook hardware and distribution. An analogy to digital music seems appropriate: the Kindle and the Sony Reader are your iPod equivalents, tied to specific content-buying channels and/or file formats to keep the profits as close to their makers (and their partners) as possible. Now the ubiquitous Google is getting in on the game of selling the content, savvy tech firms will be watching closely to see which file format wins the popularity war, before starting to churn out affordable generic readers that can display them without restriction.
Now, as discussed before, ebooks are probably never going to be as big a deal as downloadable music has become (though one can dream, right?), but I’m confident that this will be the tipping point at which another content market suddenly leaps into the digital domain. Hopefully by Christmas time this year I’ll be able to get a decent eInk device that doesn’t lock me in to one content provider, just like my charmingly generic media player…