Google Editions

…is coming to the USA by year end 2010. I’m suspect it will have to be in operation for a while before we can gauge the impact. Devin Coldewey at Techcrunch speculates this will not be another virtual store competing directly against Amazon and Apple:

(…) Google Editions isn’t going to be the Kindle Store with a more spartan web aesthetic: it’s going to be a network of individuals, indexed, managed, and regularly milked by Google. While the terms encourage sellers to sell via Google’s existing services (Checkout, direct referrals from search, etc, I would guess), the revenue split is only slightly decreased for resellers. The meaning is clear: Google wants to create an army of booksellers making direct sales to users visiting their site, blog, or what have you.

The advantages of not having to go through, for instance, Amazon, when selling your book, are hard to quantify. But the notion that an author will be able to place a widget on their own page, and have the book-buying transaction be self-contained rather than being transferred to Amazon, is significant. The attraction of being an independent node will be an attractive one for many to whom other e-book stores’ terms may not be permissive or customizable enough. As Dominique Raccah of Sourcebooks Inc., an Illinois publisher, puts it, “Google is going to turn every Internet space that talks about a book into a place where you can buy that book.”

And here’s a bit of the Google official “getting started” for prospective content owner/publishers.

Google Editions is an upcoming program that will allow consumers to easily purchase and read digital editions of books. Consumers will be able to preview a book, as they do today in Google Books, and will also have the option to purchase its Google Edition. After purchase, the book will live in the consumer’s online bookshelf, available to be accessed and read on most devices with internet access and a web browser; as well as on supported partner devices (to be announced during our public launch).

Today it is possible for users to view a limited percentage of each book submitted to Google Books by you. With the launch of Google Editions in 2010, you as the rightsholder will be able to choose to sell full access to your books directly to consumers. We’re planning to sell these Google Editions in the near future through the Google Books site, as well as through retailer partners.

Currently, this program is only available in the US. This page provides details to help our US partners get set up and ready to take part in Google Editions when it launches.

(…)

Imagine you are a new author in 1990, just ‘yesterday’. To connect readers with your wonderful new book, you have to (A) find a publisher to manufacture your book, promote your book somehow, negotiate shelf space with book retailers or catalog marketers, on and on. All those formidable challenges to overcome, just to get to (B) where readers have visibility of your work and the opportunity to buy, read and decide if they like your writing.

Imagine your are the same new author in 2011. For the exploding e-reader market, Google Editions moves the writer directly to point (B). They just need a presentable PDF of their work and a Google account. There remains only the “minor” problem of how readers discover the author’s new book.

This could be very big.