by Helen Gregg
A significant number of independent bookstores have high hopes for the launch of Google Editions, the search engine giant’s much talked-about foray into e-books, reported the New York Times. For the past few years, smaller booksellers have struggled to compete with online e-book retailers such as Amazon or Apple. And while Google will also sell e-books directly to consumers, it will also act as a wholesaler, allowing indies to sell e-books on their own websites and keep a significant percent of the sale.
The partnership between Google and independent booksellers will become official soon, as Google and the American Booksellers Association move forward on a deal to allow Google Editions to be the primary provider of e-books on hundreds of ABA members’ sites nationwide.
Google plans to compete against more established online retailers by providing an open platform and allowing their e-books to be read on any device with an Internet connection. Google’s director of strategic partnerships, Tom Turvey, explained this potential appeal of Google Editions: “I don’t think anyone who has bought an e-reader in the last several years has really intended to only buy their digital books from one provider for life.”
While Google competes with other online retailers, booksellers are expecting to not be in competition with Google. Indie bookstores are counting on traditional bookselling — in the form of staff recommendations, buyer selection, and dedicated customers — to keep themselves out of direct competition with Google, a company with little direct sales experience. On this point, Darin Sennett, the director of Web development at Powell’s, said, “I wonder how naïve that is at this point. We’ll have to see.”