Google Executives Say e-Book Program Is on the Right Course


Google executives believe the company’s e-book program is on the right course, after some early missteps, as it enters its fifth year. “We’re certainly experiencing a lot of growth, and revenues are going up,” said Tom Turvey, Google’s director of strategic partnerships, adding that “our business is certainly up with all the publishers.”

As part of the original launch of Google’s e-book program in the U.S., the company partnered with the ABA and independent bookstores, starting in December 2010, to provide a platform that allowed them to sell e-books. The program garnered a lot of attention, but sales were slow, and a year and a half later the company announced that it would end the partnership. In March 2012, the e-book program was relaunched as part of Google Play, which combined the company’s book business with its music and app stores.

In the intervening years, Google Play has emerged as a much more significant e-book force, particularly for Android, the operating system developed by Google. And it continues to gain traction. Of the 65 countries where Google Play Books is available, close to a third, or 21, were added in the past year, according to spokeswoman Gina Johnson. The U.S. continues to be Google Play Books’s biggest market, but the e-book program has an “especially good footprint” in Asia, Europe, Latin America, Canada, and Australia as well, Johnson said.

One of the company’s e-book strategies has been to go local with each country it enters, by working with publishers based in that country. “Books, like news, are potent only if they really speak to the local audience,” said Turvey. He noted that this is not only hard to do, but it can be expensive. Still, he believes that it makes Google Play Books more integral to each place where its platform is introduced. In Japan, for example, the top-selling presses are also the country’s best known: Kodansha and Kadokawa.

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SOURCE: Publishers Weekly
Judith Rosen

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