Wednesday, February 10, 2010

Publishers Win a Bout in E-Book Price Fight; New York Times, 2/8/10

Motoko Rich, New York Times; Publishers Win a Bout in E-Book Price Fight:

"Google’s e-book retail program would be separate from the company’s class-action settlement with authors and publishers over its book-scanning project, under which Google has scanned more than seven million volumes — mostly out of print — from several university libraries. That settlement was recently imperiled by a filing from the Department of Justice that said it still had significant legal problems with the agreement, even after a round of revisions. The settlement is subject to court approval.

Google users can already search up to about 20 percent of the content of many new books that publishers have agreed to enroll in a search program. According to publishers, Google originally said it would automatically enroll any book sold through Google Editions in the search program. An executive from at least one of the six largest publishers said the company did not agree with those terms. Mr. Clancy said that Google would not require books sold through Google Editions to be part of the search program.

Last May Tom Turvey, director of strategic partnerships at Google, told publishers at the annual BookExpo convention in New York that Google’s program for selling new e-book editions 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.

Google, without its own e-reader, wants to be a Switzerland of sorts, competing with Barnes & Noble and other e-book sellers to become the preferred digital bookstore on devices other than the iPad or the Kindle, such as Android smart phones.

In general, publishers are eager for Google to enter the e-book market because they want more competition. “We would love to have a diverse marketplace for e-books,” said Maja Thomas, senior vice president for the digital division of Hachette Book Group, which publishes blockbuster authors like James Patterson and Stephenie Meyer. Since Google would contribute to such diversity, Ms. Thomas said, “we welcome them.”"

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