An article from The New York Times says that Google has plans to launch an initiative called Google Edition which will let publishers sell in-print e-books direct to consumers. The new initiative is separate from Google Book Search but will utilize a feature from Google’s Partner Program that allows users to preview up to 20 percent of a book and select links to online retailers where the books are available for purchase. With Google Edition, the users will be able to purchase those e-books directly through Google. This new program will give Google an e-book store similar to Amazon’s and therefore put the two companies in direct competition for control of the e-book market. (For those booksellers reading, this means in direct competition with us as much as each other.) Google plans to implement a similar pricing strategy as Amazon where publishers set wholesale prices but Google and Amazon control the consumer prices. It will be interesting to see the price that Google charges for the e-books because publishers have expressed much concern over the sustainability of Amazon’s low pricing. Recent reports say that Amazon is selling the e-books at a loss in an effort to sell more Kindles but that customers have already become accustomed to the low price tag. The article notes that some details of Google Edition are still being worked out but publishers that were briefed on the plans are optimistic about the program. Google Edition is expected to go live later this year.
Note: The New York Times posted a correction to the original piece and this posting has been updated to reflect the correction.