Yesterday Google announced their eBookstore. While at first glance another online bookstore doesn’t seem to matter all that much, but Google has a history of knocking down giants. So what do you need to know about this initial launch of the Google eBookstore?
1. Distributed/social comments
To leave a comment on Amazon.com you have to be logged in with your account. They also take steps to make sure people aren’t spamming the comments or running multiple accounts. Google eBookstore on the other hand is aggregating comments from several different sources. GoodReads.com is the main source but there are also comments from editorial sources and Kirkus.com. You can also leave your review directly in the Google eBookstore.
My question is, what are they doing to protect from people spamming comments? Are they checking for people using multiple accounts either through Google or GoodReads? The consumer reviews are very important in online sales so I would love to see more information on what they are doing to protect the process.
2. Device Agnostic
The Google eBookstore launches with support of reading on the web, Android phones, iPhone, iPad, iPod, Barnes & Noble Nook and Sony eReader. Curiously left off the list is the Amazon Kindle although I would assume that will happen in the near future. Google’s site says, “Currently, Google eBooks are not compatible with Amazon Kindle devices, though we are open to supporting them in the future.” Once it does, I would start to wonder why anyone would buy an ebook anywhere BUT a store like Google’s that allows you to remain device agnostic. Hopefully this will twist the arm of the other major players to decide on a single format for ebooks that can be used (and protected) across all devices.
3. Huge amount of titles available
Google launched with over 3,000,000 titles! That is bigger than any other store currently.
4. Google is crawling the entire book
Depending on the copyright of the book and the publisher’s requirements, Google is crawling the content of the entire book. The most exciting thing about this is that books will start showing up in search engines for terms outside of the authors name, book title and short description. What this will do to actual book sales is yet to be seen, but I can only assume this increased exposure will increase sales as well.
I’ll pause here and mention that the launch of the Google eBookstore was made possible by a settlement in the class action lawsuit brought against Google by the Authors Guild, the Association of American Publishers and a handful of authors and publishers over three years ago. By reading through some of the information on this lawsuit it sounds like a lot of decisions have been tentatively made and there is a lot of progress yet to come.
5. Book previews
Publishers will have the option of making 20% to 100% of their book available for preview to readers. It will also make it very easy to embed portions of the book in your website. This is exciting as it will make it much easier to share portions of the book and make them available to potential readers.
The Google eBookstore will integrate with their analytics software as well. From Google site:
Online reports let you manage your account information, view how many consumers have looked at your titles, see click rates on purchase links, and review other stats related to the Google Books program.
For those of us that focus on analytics and website optimizations to drive sales, this is an exciting feature. I would love to see the other retailers follow suit on this one. The ability to see stats and user actions will help make decisions on how we are driving people to the various online book stores.
7. Adwords integration
An obvious move, the Google eBookstore integrates with their Adwords product to make it easier to purchase and track advertising campaigns.
8. Resources and Education for Authors and Publishers
While it is current pretty sparse, Google has created a resources section to help authors and publishers take advantage of their new platform. Keep an eye here as this section is sure to grow quickly.
I’m most excited about what this move by Google will force the other online retailers to do, especially Amazon.com. Will Amazon open their Kindle format? Will they allow authors and publishers to track their analytics? I’m very interested to see what comes next.
I could not locate very much information on how much control authors and publishers will have in the listing of their books. Will you be able to change the primary category for your book? Will you be able to customize the author’s page with video and other content?
Google has a history of launching a product and then quickly growing it and adding additional features. What will be next for the Google eBookstore and what will they continue to push the other major retailers to do? Time will tell.
December 7, 2010