Digital Directions: Google’s eBookstore: A Rising Tide
With a P.T. Barnum-like flourish, Google launched its eBookstore as "the largest e-books collection in the world!" Over 3 million titles! Step right up! Best-sellers and public-domain titles!
Google made good on its commitment of launching the eBookstore before the end of 2010, and 2011 will be an interesting year for the e-book world.
The launch of the Google eBookstore is the most significant event in the evolution of the e-book marketplace since the launch of the Amazon Kindle, to which it represents the most direct threat.
A New DRM Standard
Both the Google eBookstore and the Amazon Kindle represent a complete cross-device delivery ecosystem, capable of managing delivery of customers' purchases across an array of devices, not locked into a single proprietary device.
The new wrinkle is the manner in which the Google eBookstore supports cross-device digital rights management (DRM): Google has deployed Adobe Content Server 4 (ACS4) as the DRM platform for its eBookstore. ACS4 is the most promising standard cross-device DRM solution, and Google's adoption of it clearly will accelerate its emergence as a DRM standard.
While the eBookstore launch was anticipated, Google's adoption of ACS4 is real news. It heralds a new phase in the evolution of the e-book marketplace, even more than the launching of the eBookstore itself. ACS4 has the potential of being a democratizing standard, allowing smaller booksellers to create their own secure means of distributing and protecting e-books outside of a major commerce partner such as Amazon.
Google's adoption of ACS4 has enabled them to create channel relationships with independent booksellers to advertise and sell Google e-books and share the revenue. While the Kindle program provides a cross-device ecosystem, Google eBookstore—with the use of ACS4—represents a cross-channel, cross-device ecosystem. This allows many more players in the publishing community to get involved, not just in the creation of e-book titles, but also in their sale.