Google & Sony in eBook Deal

picture-12Google is making 500K public domain books available through the Sony eBook Reader, which existed before Kindle but is quite a bit less elegant as a device. From today’s WSJ story:

In a strike against Amazon’s Kindle electronic book reader, Sony and Google plan to launch a partnership Thursday that will give users of the Sony Reader device access to more than half-a-million public domain books from Google’s ambitious book digitization project. The books will be offered to Sony Reader users free via the online Sony eBook store. The companies wouldn’t reveal financial terms of the deal.

To date, Sony has sold more than 400,000 of its $300 to $350 Readers. While Amazon hasn’t said how many Kindles it has sold, Citigroup estimates 500,000 of the devices sold last year and Barclays Capital projects the Kindle could bring $3.7 billion in annual revenue by 2012 . . .

For Google, the Sony partnership is an attempt to expand the reach of its online books service, from which it hopes to earn new advertising and subscription revenue. It also underscores how the Mountain View, Calif., technology giant, whose roots are in searching digital content, is now playing a greater role in distributing it — a move some publishers find unsettling.

Do book publishers now follow the path of newspaper publishers: the electronic versions of their titles start to proliferate  at lower cost and their profits (already slim) start to evaporate? It also depends on how widespread the practice of reading books on these devices becomes. 

People could go either way; they could see eBook readers as frivolous during a recession or, paradoxically, as a way to save money on books because the electronic versions are somewhat cheaper. Eco-enthusiasts also might like the idea that no trees were harmed . . . I could imagine a market (in a few years) where people use these readers for “throwaway” fiction and non-fiction and spend money selectively on physical books — i.e., only those they want to keep. 

This ultimately might create challenges and problems for public libraries too. 

I’m curious about whether you think that Kindle, the Sony Reader or a range of new, yet to be released, devices will change the culture of reading and lead to the same kinds of erosions and crises for traditional book publishers that we’ve seen in other market segments.

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3 Responses to “Google & Sony in eBook Deal”

  1. » Google Partners With Sony … Is SEO Around The Corner For E-Books? Search Engine Optimization Journal - SEO and Search Engine Marketing Blog Says:

    […] Greg Sterling at Screenwerk has an interesting observation: I could imagine a market (in a few years) where people use these readers for “throwaway” fiction and non-fiction and spend money selectively on physical books — i.e., only those they want to keep. […]

  2. bb Says:

    “but is quite a bit less elegant as a device” is false if you actually use both devices (unless you can’t figure out how to copy them from your computer)

  3. Google Shares half a Million Ebooks with Sony’s Ebook reader | Ebook Readers: Kindle Says:

    […] Google & Sony in eBook Deal « Screenwerk […]

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