December 6, 2010 - With Google rolling out its much awaited yet highly controversial digital eBooks program, this unarguably most popular search engine is all set to scan approximately 130 million books that are available in print versions at present and render them searchable on the web. As per Scott Dougall, Google eBooks' product management director, "The next logical iteration for us is to open up a bookstore." Now, this implies that Google will directly compete with the existing eBook stores viz. Sony, Barnes and Noble, Amazon, and others. However, there's a significant difference and it's that while other stores render eBooks readable only on some exclusive devices, Google eBooks would be available on just any device with an access to the web. You can now read your favorite eBook using a web browser or can download the same on your Apple and Android gadgets.
According to Dougall, seamless reading of an eBook is possible across multiple devices including the iPad, Android phone, and computer. Till now, over 50 million books in over a hundred countries have already been scanned as part of this eBooks initiative of Google. Dougall further added that over 3 million of the scanned editions would now be available as eBooks including free books in public domain as well as “hundreds of thousands” of books for sale.
There is no change in the ranking algorithm of Google and books would appear in regular SERPs. However, you can use the dedicated page for eBooks if you wish to conduct a search for eBooks format only.
Google's endeavor to scan the printed books has been in controversy from the beginning. As per Dougall, "We started in 2004 with the goal of scanning all the books in the world and making them searchable." Google was sued by the Association of American Publishers and Authors Guild of America in late 2005 for the massive infringement of copyright. In 2008, the Authors Guild and Google came to terms, although the US Department of Justice had objected to some of the agreement. Eventually, it was late in 2009 that a revised settlement agreement came into effect.
Though many issues still remain unresolved, Google has now moved forward with publishers, authors as well as competing book sellers by launching eBooks. Over 4,000 publishers are taking part in the program besides the booksellers Alibris, Powells, and participating members of the American Booksellers Association. Individual authors too can participate in the program. By putting revenue sharing agreements in place with the stakeholders, Google aims to sell more books, as per Dougall.
Speculations suggest that though Google is entering a marketplace which is already crowded with biggies, it's expected that Google's cloud centric approach would help it gain in the market. However, not all users would be willing to relinquish their time and money that they have already invested on other platforms.