Whatever happened to Google Editions?

Remember Google Editions? The Googly ebook store that was announced earlier this year and was going to launch in June or July? Well, it's not arrived yet, as you may have noticed.

Google's offering was to be different to most ebook stores - no file downloads but rather an online library stored in Google's 'cloud'. No DRM or messy solutions like that, but everyone's reading habits available for analysis by the world's biggest web ad broker and, coincidentally, search engine. There's a win for customers there, because they don't have to fight awkward DRM schemes and can access their books anywhere as long as they have net connectivity. But a huge win for Google in its ability to link reading habits to its advertising business.

So Amazon and Apple may be relieved, but what's going on? Perhaps the exercise is turning out to be a little harder than Google anticipated: they now claim that Google will launch Editions "when it's ready", as Google spokeswoman Jeannie Hornung tells CNET. But with the ebook market maintaining its rapid growth, Google may need to get to this party quickly before their customers are already committed to its rivals' models - whatever the costs and benefits of such a decision.

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Comments

Well, the news came today

John Pettigrew's picture

Well, the news came today that it'll be six months or more (!), so I guess there's plenty of time to speculate. It'll be interesting to see what the ebooks market looks like by that time, in terms of hardware, software and services.

Google Editions & DRM

Nick Harkaway's picture

I'm not sure about GE being DRM-free - I seem to recall some discussion of that. There's the issue of caching, after all; if you go into a tunnel or otherwise offline, Google says the book will still be there for you to read - which means it is locally stored, if temporarily. The cloud is not an anti-piracy solution. Unless you've seen something less equivocal than the stuff I've seen :)

I also can't help but feel that 'when it's ready' means 'when Judge Chin has ruled and we know whether we get the entire digital library on our terms'...

DRM and stuff

John Pettigrew's picture

Nick,

The Google Books deal is a different issue - although I'm sure Google would be keen to distribute all that stuff via Editions, the main point of GE is to sell books rather than steal them...

The thing with web reading is that, although you do have a local cache, you need only ever have a small portion of the whole thing. Sure, you could build up a copy of the whole by aggregating those pieces, but the same's true of any DRM scheme - as long as the content is available to the user, it's available to be copied.

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