It has finally happened! Google launched the Google eBookstore on Monday. The bookstore is an extension of Google’s book project, “an effort that began in 2004 to scan all 130 million books in the world, by Google’s estimate.” Because it is cloud-based, it is an “open-ecosystem,” which means consumers can buy their books once through the eBookstore, store them in a “central, online password-protected library and read them on personal computers, tablets, smartphones and e-readers” (except on Amazon’s Kindle, at least not yet).
The Google eBookstore is great for independent bookstores and publishers. It’s opening is seen as a way to level the playing field for them, since it will now be easier for people to find books on the Internet (all they have to do is use Google’s search engine and relevant books will appear). So a lot of indie bookstores are on board and selling their books wholesale on Google’s eBookstore.
But will Google’s cloud-based bookstore completely change publishing? James McQuivey thinks so. On his blog, he argues that “the ultimate effect of Google eBooks, if Google knows what’s good for it, will be the creation of an ad-supported publishing model.” He thinks eventually there will be ads in all the free sample chapters people can read, which will help writers and publishers make more money. But he also thinks they will be angry and reluctant to agree to ad-supported publishing. He’s probably right.
In other Google news, Google kick-started its week by introducing the Nexus S with Gingerbread (Do you think they named it Gingerbread because we’re in the holiday season?) Gingerbread is the latest, and fastest, version of the Android platform, and the Nexus S is the newest Android device, and will be available starting Dec. 16.
Big day for publishing today. Jacob Lewis and Dana Goodman unveiled Figment today, which is “an experiment in online literature, a free platform for young people to read and write fiction, both on their computers and on their cellphones. Users are invited to write novels, short stories and poems, collaborate with other writers and give and receive feedback on the work posted on the site.” The idea sprung from the invention of the cellphone novel, which originated in Japan but came to the US in 2008. (For more on the cell phone novel, read “Thumbs Race as Japan’s Best Sellers Go Cellular“)
Callaway Digital Arts recently opened its office on Fulton Street in New York. The company plans on creating apps and morphing from a book publisher to an apps publisher. Next year they will also open an office in San Francisco. Smart, since that’s the current center of all things digital. One of their apps will be “The Monster at the End of this Book,” which will be interactive. Since that was one of my favorite books as a child, I can’t wait to see what they do with it!
WikiLeaks Updates: In addition to hackers and the US government’s attempts to shut down the site, PayPal, which WikiLeaks used to get funding and donations, froze their account. And of course Amazon withdrew from hosting WikiLeaks, so it is now hosted outside the US. Meanwhile, there are lots of mixed opinions about WikiLeaks founder Julian Assange. Is there a conspiracy? At the very least, there’s speculation that Assange will be Time Magazine‘s 2010 Person of the Year.
Barnes & Noble has put itself up for auction, and there’s a chance that Borders will acquire it. William A. Ackman, the man who is the biggest shareholder of Border’s, “has offered to finance a $960 million takeover bid for its larger rival, Barnes & Noble.” He would pay $16 per share, which is “a 20 percent premium to Barnes & Noble’s closing stock price on Friday.” Borders is only one of eight to ten companies bidding for Barnes & Noble, but some people are wondering if this buyout would be a good idea. (As a side note, earlier this year, Barnes & Noble successfully kept billionaire Ronald W. Burkle from owning the majority of shares in the company and changing the way the business is run).
This is a mix of publishing and social science, but there is a new study, conducted by Dan Cohen and Fred Gibbs of George Mason University, that will search through literature published during the Victorian era for key words that will provide more insight into the mindset of people during that time.
Again, this isn’t directly related to publishing, but Facebook and social networking plays a large role in publishing, particularly in marketing. Last night, Leslie Stahl interviewed Mark Zuckerberg on 60 Minutes, and Zuckerberg announced Facebook’s profile design.
And lastly, because who wouldn’t want to end on an Oprah note, Oprah “went ‘old school'” for next week’s Oprah Book Club pick. She chose Charles Dickens’ Great Expectations and A Tale of Two Cities (one of my favorite books). Apparently, she has never read Dickens before. Wtf Oprah?