BEA ’09 may be remembered as the moment when Google formally entered the ebook market. From the New York Times:
Mr. [Tom] Turvey [director of strategic partnerships at Google] said Google’s program would allow consumers to read books on any device with Internet access, including mobile phones, rather than being limited to dedicated reading devices like the Amazon Kindle. “We don’t believe that having a silo or a proprietary system is the way that e-books will go,” he said.
He said that Google would allow publishers to set retail prices. Amazon lets publishers set wholesale prices and then sets its own prices for consumers. In selling e-books at $9.99, Amazon takes a loss on each sale because publishers generally charge booksellers about half the list price of a hardcover — typically around $13 or $14.
In addition — and this is pure conjecture on my part — Google’s push into HTML 5 is a potential shot across the bow of e-reader manufacturers. Assuming it’s widely implemented, HTML 5 will further blur the line between standalone software and Web browsers/cloud-based content. Toss in Google’s Chrome browser and the Gears plugin and you can see how the dots (might) connect.
According to the Times, Google intends to launch its ebook project in 2009. This effort is separate from the pending Book Search