Independent bookstores see Google as ally in e-book market | india | Hindustan Times
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Independent bookstores see Google as ally in e-book market

Independent bookstores were battered first by discount chains like Barnes & Noble, then by superefficient Web retailers like Amazon.com. Now the electronic book age is dawning. With this latest challenge, these stores will soon have a new ally: Google.

india Updated: Jun 30, 2010 20:27 IST

Independent bookstores were battered first by discount chains like Barnes & Noble, then by superefficient Web retailers like Amazon.com.

Now the electronic book age is dawning. With this latest challenge, these stores will soon have a new ally: Google.

Later this summer, Google plans to introduce its long-awaited push into electronic books, called Google Editions — described as an effort to sell digital books that will be readable within a Web browser and accessible from any Internet-connected computing device.

Now one element of Google Editions is coming into sharper focus. Google is on the verge of completing a deal with the American Booksellers Association, the trade group for independent bookstores, to make Google Editions the primary source of e-books on the Web sites of hundreds of independent booksellers around America. To court the growing audience of people who prefer reading on screens rather than paper, these small stores have until now been forced to compete against the likes of Amazon, Apple and Sony.

The Google deal could give them a foothold in this fast-growing market and help them keep devoted customers from migrating elsewhere.

Google will probably face an uphill battle in its effort to enter the already crowded e-books field. The company has little experience as a retailer. It also has far fewer consumer credit card numbers in its database than either Amazon or Apple, and its online payment system, Google Checkout, has not been widely adopted.

Google is promoting its e-book plan as a more “open” alternative to its rivals’ stores. Though it will act as a retailer and sell books from its own site, it will also behave like a wholesaler and allow independent bookstores and other partners to sell its e-books on their sites.