According to a report in the New York Times
, Google has its sights trained squarely on the e-book market. This move would pit Google against Amazon.com, which has a big head start in the e-book market with the versions it sells for its Kindle device (pictured below).
The report stated that Google had discussions with publishers at the annual BookExpo convention in New York over the weekend.
Publishers might be happier with Google's pricing structure than with Amazon.com's. Amazon allows publishers set wholesale prices but then sets its own prices for consumers. Amazon sells Kindle editions of most new best sellers for $9.99, far lower than the typical $20+ at which publishers sell new hardcovers.
Google, on the other hand, would allow publishers to set their own retail prices. However, Tom Turvey, director of strategic partnerships at Google, said that Google would reserve the right to adjust prices that it deemed “exorbitant.”
David Young, chief executive of Hachette Book Group said:
“Clearly, any major company coming into the e-book space, providing that we are happy with the pricing structure, the selling price and the security of the technology, will be a welcome addition."
The Hatchette Book Group publishes such best-selling authors as James Patterson, Stephenie Meyer and Nicholas Sparks.
In a presentation at BookExpo, Google committed to going live with the project by the end of 2009. While Google has made such suggestions before, Turvey added the sentence, “This time we mean it” to the presentation.
Turvey added that Google’s program would allow consumers to read books on any device with Internet access, including mobile phones. The books will be readable even when users are offline.
Turvey also put in a dig at Amazon.com's Kindle, saying “We don’t believe that having a silo or a proprietary system is the way that e-books will go."
Of course, that statement discounts Amazon.com's Kindle program for the iPhone. It's a sure bet, however, that Google will add support for this project to Android and Windows Mobile, which Amazon.com has eschewed so far.