Tuesday, 8 September 2009

Google struggling to get ebooks

Thousands of aspiring authors from around the world can now totally sympathize with Google—because the search giant is also struggling to get a book deal. Well, okay, so mostly they’re struggling to get regulatory approval of a book deal, and said book deal is more about licensing and ePub than actually breaking into the industry—but close enough, right?

Anyway, Google looks like they’re getting to the point where they’re willing to give up just about anything to get this book deal through the EU. The latest concession is to allow two non-US members onto a board to administer its digital books settlement. Bloomberg also reports that:
Books that are commercially available and under copyright in Europe won’t be considered out of print under a proposed settlement with U.S. publishers over the company’s book-scanning project, Google said in a letter to several publisher associations in Europe.

The deal is supposed to pertain to works that are out of print (but still in copyright) as well as public domain works. The European Commission “is seeking precise details on the exact scope of the settlement” and “how many European works or publications will potentially be affected.”
Coming up on eleven months after the agreement was first announced, Google is still facing widespread regulatory scrutiny, as well as some protests from author groups, Amazon (via the Open Book Alliance) and others.

However, Google continues to pursue the deal (even in the face of the DOJ in the US). I think this is more than just Google not wanting to back down from their deal—I think this is a sign of just how serious Google is about their pending eBook foray.

They already have deals with Sony and Interead, and either of those deals could also lead in to the hardware side of eBook readers. Now they need the content to back up those deals and really make a push to take on Amazon.
If they get the necessary permissions for the nearly 500,000 books they’re proposing, Google could stand to take on Amazon—but Amazon would still have an advantage in current bestsellers.

What do you think? Can old books from Google match up to Amazon? Just how much will Google concede to get the deal through?

Jordan McCollum

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