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And the shoe drops!

Google announces retail sales of ebooks for any Web-enabled device.

This, my friends, is the game-changing development that has been lurking in the background for years, but it wasn't at all clear how it was going to come about.



Oct. 16th, 2009 03:33 pm (UTC)
What's your analysis that brings you to game-changing?

Oct. 16th, 2009 05:27 pm (UTC)
The two things that I see as game-changing are dropping the DRM and offering to host the retail site, with a (bare) majority of the money going to the publisher.

I may well be talking out of my hat, as I really haven't stayed up to date on recent developments, but DRM always seemed to be a system that only worked while everyone played. Having some material, like Project Gutenberg, the Baen Free Library, and various author's individual efforts, out there in readily-transferable formats nibbled at the edges. But I'm guessing that having a major player like Google go DRM-free is going to force the other big providers to follow along. Their marketing departments should have been letting them know that it wasn't that critical anyway, but it's hard to let go of something you have placed such importance on.

I see distribution as the trickiest and most critical part of bookselling. The amount of material to represent is so vast that anything that facilitates the buyer seeing the seller's offerings can't help but affect sales. Amazon has been the earthquake on the landscape, but even they have to pick and choose which books to represent. You can go a long ways with economies of scale, but you still need to ship everything, and can't afford to deal with publishers who won't discount heavily or who have less than professional sales departments.

With Google I'm imagining something more like iTunes, but without DRM and without the punishing sales terms that iTunes requires. Google seems more able, and willing, to adapt to the abilities of the middle sized and small publisher, and is offering an encouraging enough payment schedule to prompt them to apply.

People buy when it's easy and not too expensive. People sell when you make the process of supply straightforward, and have confidence in payment. There have been a bunch of reasons why neither side was that workable in ebooks, and (making a boatload of assumptions about how they are actually going to implement this) Google retail of ebooks may well fix both sides at once.
Oct. 16th, 2009 09:45 pm (UTC)
"...DRM always seemed to be a system that only worked while everyone played."

Agreed, bad guys included.



after all
Alice Bentley

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