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Google Books Distributes e-Books Through Indie Bookstores

Google's ebookstore emerged from the Google Books program, which didn’t start out as a potential revenue stream. Instead, Google’s book-scanning project was simply a program to help the company fulfill its mission to make all of the world’s information accessible.

Google at Your Local Indie Bookstore

As Google Books began partnering with publishers and contemplating a program to sell books in addition to just making them searchable, it made a philosophical decision that brick-and-mortar bookstores are critical to the literary ecosystem. By handling the technology, Google can help booksellers concentrate on what they do best -- recommend good books and provide access.

Google says it has deals to sell books from almost 4,000 publishers, including all the major houses, and that "hundreds of thousands" of books will be available for purchase.

Google Books Revenue Model

Google will get 30% of every book sale, with publishers retaining the remaining 70%.

In its deal with the ABA, bookstores that sell Google e-books will get a portion of that 30%. It's said to be "more generous" than the deal booksellers currently get from Ingram Digital, the other major supplier of e-books to independent bookstores.

Google as "Distributor"

Google's e-books program will act as much as a distribution system as a retail outlet. You can buy Google’s e-books directly from the company’s ebookstore, if you like. But if you’d rather support your local bookstore, you can buy the exact same books on their site.

Darin Sennett, director of strategic partnerships at the famous Powell’s book shop in Portland, Oregon, is particularly excited about Google’s technological model. The Kindle, the Nook, and the Sony eReader all use the traditional approach to e-books: They sell DRM-protected files that customers download to devices and which must be read with specific e-reading software.

Google Uses the Cloud for Book Storage

Google, however, is using the cloud. Its e-books will be stored on Google servers, and readers who’ve purchased them will access their books via a browser. Unlike in the Kindle system, where Kindle e-books can only be read on Kindle devices, Google e-books will be able to be read on any device that has a browser.

Download or Access on the Internet

Readers who prefer to own their own copies of Google e-books will be able to download them, in either PDF or ePub format. But Google anticipates that most customers use the cloud because of its convenience: They’ll always have access to their books, no matter what device they have with them at any particular time. Using the cloud requires having an active Internet connection.

Bringing e-Books to Bookstore Commerce

Google's program gives independent bookstores an effective avenue for staying in the bookselling game as some readers’ preferences shift to digital formats. “When people come to us and say ‘We really love independent bookstores and we want to buy our e-books from you,” now we can say, ‘You can.’”

Read more at Fast Company