Google Sony partnership to offer 500K free ePub books

Add another chapter to the Amazon-Google Book Wars, with Google showing that its super intent on upsetting the Kindle Cart.

Google must be hoping to turn Amazon into a mortal enemy because it is making the effort to convert 500,000 of its free books to epub format and then offering them to Sony Reader owners through the Sony Store.

TeleRead had the scoop on this -

A Google-Sony partnership will bring 500,000 of Google’s public domain books to the Sony Reader platform— in ePub format.

David and I found this out Tuesday afternoon, in a half hour interview with Steve Haber, President of Sony’s Digital Reading Division, and Jennie Johnson, a spokesperson for Google.

What is particularly galling if you’re Amazon is that the Google spokeswoman, Jennie, did not know if these ePub books will be available to users outside of the Sony platform.

Sony continue to rather carelessly reveal their sales numbers -

over 400,000 Sony Readers have been sold and that sales during this Christmas season were triple those of last Christmas.

Wonder how much of that jump was due to the Kindle being out of stock. And wonder why Sony wants to broadcast to every big technology company that the eBook Reader market is heating up.  

Thoughts on the Google-Sony partnership

Google is beginning to see the huge books market that they were lining up for themselves disappear as the Kindle family takes over. The lack of enough advances in Android development and adoption means that Google is forced to side with a hardware developer like Sony.   

In the short term, its a smart move by Google and an unexpected bonus for Sony. However, its not nearly enough to challenge Amazon.

In the long term, Google has started an all-out war, and Sony benefits little since it doesn’t own the content.

Thoughts on Impact on Amazon

Amazon needs to see the emerging trend – all the other players i.e. hardware providers, content providers, publishers, etc. are beginning to form alliances against the dominant player (Amazon of course). We’re already seeing publishers so scared by Amazon that they’re trying a bunch of things that they hadn’t before Kindle, such as  

  1. Free Book Trials on sites like Scribd.  
  2. Tie-ups with iPhone Apps for reading books.  

Amazon have the better product and they ought to win – provided they keep customers on Amazon’s side.

2 Responses

  1. Wouldn’t Google have profited more by either alliancing with Amazon itself or (since they already crawled into bed in many ways with Apple) wait until the Apple release of it’s netbook/ereader in Q4 2009? Then they may have had a shot, but I see the alliance with Sony as going nowhere. Ok. so they offer 500k public domain books to sony readers. Are most if not all of those books already offered by Gutenburg for the Kindle or are well on there way with Manybooks.com or Feedbooks.com? Or, better yet, can I not download the books in pdf from google directly and then easily convert them for my Kindle anyway? This isn’t offering anything exclusive to Sony and therefore won’t really influence the consumers’ decisions on which eReader to buy. In my humble opinion, bad move Google. You may gain a quick $20.00 for this deal, but you’ve shut yourself out of the running for the long-term investment which will yield far more profits. You aren’t shaking up the industry, you’re shooting yourself in the foot.

  2. Android would advance faster if they opened all the APIs up to C++, so that no knowledge of Java would be required.

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