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By Thomas Baekdal - December 2010

Google Ebooks, the Platform

Yesterday, Google launched their new ebook store, which isn't actually a bookstore at all. Google eBooks is a platform that binds the publishers, sellers, and buyers together into one seamless mix.

In past, you had to buy the books you wanted from a specific seller, like Amazon. Then you had to read it using Amazon's Kindle. It is the same with eReader or the iBook store. The source of sale is link your source of reading devices.

With Google eBooks those kind of silly limitations simply disappears. On Monday you can buy one book from one book seller, the Tuesday from another, and on Thursday you could buy a third book directly from Google eBooks.

All the books are linked to your Google Account, and you can then read or download them using whatever device you like. You can read them using Google's own ebook reader, or simply download the epub files and read them in whatever ebook reader you prefer. You can even read it directly in the browsers, so any mobile device is theoretically compatible.

For the publishers, it means that you are not limiting your audience to just people with an iPad (as in the case of e.g., the iBook store). For the ebook sellers, you don't have to worry about the limitations of the infrastructure of handling the ebooks, or creating dedicated ebook readers. And for the buyers it means that you are not limited by the source or device. You can read your books wherever you like.

Publishers can focus on creating books, sellers can focus on selling them, and readers can focus on reading them. It is brilliant.


The ebook platform

Google is tearing down the walls and distribution channels of the past.

Think of it like the Twitter platform. When you tweet a message, you don't have to worry about the distribution channels. You don't have to create a distribution agreement with TweetDeck, Seesmic or Hootsuite. You tweet to the platform, and that tweet is then made available for any channel using it. As a reader, you have the choice to use whatever Twitter app you prefer, and all of them will provide you with the same content.

It is the same with Google Ebooks. Publishers can publish a book via Google Ebooks, and it will be made available for sale trough whatever channels using it. As a reader, you can read the books on whatever devices you prefer, despite where you bought it, or who published it.

That's the real impact of Google Ebooks. They have created the first true ebook platform.

It not perfect though, the browser implementation is buggy, search is weird at times, and Google needs to make the entire process a bit more user-friendly. And many ebooks are still limited by DRM and country restrictions.

Many Google eBooks are protected under copyright law, and our publisher and author partners require us to protect them against unauthorized copying and abuse. These protections come in the form of digital rights management (DRM) and control your usage of your ebooks, such as the option to download ebooks as ePub and PDF files. These protections are specified by the publisher and Google is required to implement them. Some Google eBooks are completely free of digital rights management - they are either free public domain books, or the rightsholder has chosen to provide its readers full access to the content. In these cases you will be able to download DRM free ePubs or PDFs. For all other Google eBooks, we will implement rights management as required by publishers. Additionally, some publishers will limit the number of mobile readers that can download a specific book at a time, and will limit the number of concurrent reading sessions allowed for their content.

Why open yourself up to the market, when you can make the same mistakes the music and movie industries made?

Related: Google's New Bookstore Cracks Open the E-book Market (Gigaom)


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Thomas Baekdal

Founder, media analyst, author, and publisher. Follow on Twitter

"Thomas Baekdal is one of Scandinavia's most sought-after experts in the digitization of media companies. He has made ​​himself known for his analysis of how digitization has changed the way we consume media."
Swedish business magazine, Resumé


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