On Monday, the
But hundreds of thousands of Google's e-books will be paid titles from major and minor publishers. Those will include many bestsellers and, Google says, the vast majority of books already commercially available in electronic form.
By opening its eBookStore, Google is pitting itself
squarely against established digital booksellers, including the market
The books can be read online through a new Google
reading interface that also launched Monday. They'll also work on a
number of tablet and e-reader devices, including Apple's iPad and
iPhone, Android-based smart phones and tablets, and e-ink devices from
Amazon Kindle users will not be able to purchase new books from Google, though the Kindle will be able to display some of Google's public domain (non-copyrighted) books.
Google will sell the books via two main online channels. The first is its eBookStore, where it will sell directly to consumers and share the proceeds with publishers. The second is by way of online bookstores, which will add a Google e-book sales widget to their websites and split the retail proceeds with Google.
Books sold by most of the large U.S. publishers — Penguin, HarperCollins,
For non-agency books, Google will use an algorithm to choose a price based on market data, not including competitors' prices, Google says. Google then keeps the proceeds from that sale, minus approximately 52 percent of the publisher's original list price.
Google representatives said the proportion of the revenue split can vary somewhat depending on the specifics of deals with individual publishers.
Google has also done deals with hundreds of independent bookstores such that, if customers buy Google e-books through stores' websites, the stores split the proceeds with Google, after the publisher's cut. Google said it made deals individually with each store, and has not disclosed the proportion of the revenue sharing.
Copy protection has been a concern among publishers
of e-books, who worry that the digital book files can be copied and
widely circulated online. Google will use a variety of copy-protection
mechanisms, including a patented copy protection scheme for books
displayed on the web, encrypted files for iPhone and Android devices,
Google's system will automatically keep track of a reader's stopping point, even if the reader switches from one device to another. That mechanism, however, will not initially work for e-ink devices. Nor will Google's Web interface allow for highlighting or note-taking.
Google has scanned 15 million books as part of the large-scale book digitization project it started in 2004. Many of those books, however, are still under copyright and subject to a lawsuit awaiting resolution in a New York federal court. Until that lawsuit is settled, most of those books will remain out of the Google bookstore.
Distributed by McClatchy-Tribune Information Services.