Publishing News: Google's win may be Amazon's loss

Google and France reach an agreement, a look at the Espresso Book Machine, and ebook industry predictions.

Here are a few stories that caught my attention this week in the publishing space.

Google’s “win-win solution” in France may leave Amazon the odd man out

GoogleLogo.pngBoth the French Publishers Association and the French Author’s Association withdrew their book-scanning lawsuits against Google this week, ending six years of litigation. In an announcement, Philippe Colombet, strategic partner development manager of Google Books France, described the agreement as a “win-win solution” and explained that “publishers and authors [will] retain control over the commercial use of their books.”

The “win” for Google might warrant a capital “W,” however. In a post at PaidContent, Jeff John Roberts writes that the deal not only could help advance the digital publishing industry in Europe, but it also could “shape which companies gain control of the continent’s fledgling e-book market.” Roberts elaborates:

“According to reports in Le Figaro and publishing site ActuaLitté, the agreement does not allow the publishers to distribute the digital books through Google’s direct competitors — read: Amazon.

“What this means in practice is that Amazon may be excluded from a significant volume of content at a time when it is expanding its push into Europe with the Kindle and app store … If the Google e-books take off, Amazon will be the odd one out as the e-books can be read directly on devices made by Sony or Barnes & Noble or through the Google Play app on Apple devices.”

Roberts also has more on the details of the agreement in a separate post here.

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Espresso Book Machine offers solutions for retailers, authors

Stacy A. Anderson of the Associated Press took a look this week at On Demand’s Espresso Book Machine. Her post not only points toward a bright future for print-on-demand (POD) publishing, but also highlights the benefits for brick-and-mortar bookstores and self-publishing authors. On Demand’s chief technology officer Thor Sigvaldason commented for the story:

“[The Espresso Book Machine] can, potentially, give [book retailers] a huge virtual inventory so they can have as many books as Amazon, all in a little bookstore. It turns independent bookstores into places to get books published. It’s a new thing for the bookstore to do: not just sell books, but actually create books.”

Anderson notes that the Northshire Bookstore in Vermont produces about 5,500 books per year on the machine, and the Politics and Prose bookstore in Washington has produced nearly 5,000 since installing the machine last November. Self-publishing accounted for about 85% of books produced at Northshire Bookstore and about 90% at Politics and Prose. Also notable, Debbi Wrage, the Espresso Book Machine coordinator at Northsire Bookstore, told Anderson that “the book machine accounted for nearly 4% of the bookstore’s 2011 revenue.”

PricewaterhouseCoopers releases ebook data and predictions

Laura Hazard Owen got an inside look this week at new data released by PricewaterhouseCoopers. She reports that data from the company’s Global Entertainment and Media Outlook predicts by 2016, the U.S. trade book market will be 50% ebooks. Owen also dug through the global data to uncover some interesting predictions and to chart ebook spending by region. According to Owen’s charts, ebook spending faces the biggest obstacles in the Central/Eastern Europe, Middle East/Africa, and Latin America regions.

You can view Owen’s findings and charts here. The full report from PricewaterhouseCoopers, including segments on books, consumer magazines, and newspapers, as well as the music, Internet and TV industries, can be found (and subscribed to) here.


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