After months of delay, Google will be making its push into digital bookselling with the end-of-2010 launch of Google Editions, a service which will let people read e-books on any device with a web browser, including smartphones and laptops. The service, expected to roil the publishing industry, will also let customers buy e-books from Google or from independent bookstore websites, giving small booksellers their best shot yet to compete with Amazon, Barnes & Noble, and Apple, which dominate sales of e-books. But will Google Editions really be able to lure customers away from those established players?
Google Editions is no Amazon slayer: Google is joining the game too late, says Kit Eaton at Fast Company. It's "big rivals have had plenty of time" to secure their dominant positions. Customers hooked on Amazon's Kindle and Apple's iPad will prefer to stick with the sellers they know. And publishers may not "embrace (and trust) the monster," given fears that Google's open system is too vulnerable to piracy.
"Google Editions e-bookstore due soon, controversy (and failure?) not far behind"
Google has a long-term winner: "Google brings something new to the table: decentralization," says Devin Coldeway at TechCrunch. It knows that trying to create yet another giant virtual bookstore "would be suicide for Google Editions." So instead Google is mustering "an army of booksellers making direct sales to users visiting their site, blog, or what have you." Google won't "take Amazon down," but it will be ready to take over when Amazon stumbles.
"Google Editions: Divide and conquer"
It will all come down to customer service: Google Editions sounds appealing, says Matthew Shaer at The Christian Science Monitor. Unlike the other e-book offerings, Google's "will be unlocked, and always accessible, no matter what kind of gadget you're carrying." But running a giant e-book operation requires "a deft touch with customer service" — and that's something Google got "slammed" for with its Nexus One smartphone. To succeed, Google will have to brush up on its people skills.
"Google Editions: Can the Google e-book platform compete with Amazon?"