Two weeks ago the Google eBookstore finally launched, and the world was briefly amazed. Google Editions, as it was known until launch, was the book world’s Duke Nukem Forever: vaporware for seven years, depending on how you count. Its actual emergence was like the birth of a unicorn. A mewling, misshapen, half-baked unicorn.
So, yep, Google launched an eBookstore. It really is a direct shot across the bow of Amazon, but Google should have gone for something with a bigger caliber. As this article notes it has taken Google a lllooonnnggg time to get here, but one does wonder if “here” moved in the meantime and Google some how missed it.
There are really good reasons to believe that Google’s only real competition is Amazon, after both sites are just trying to sell you stuff. The thing is, Amazon sells directly while Google sells through search. And the fact that Google wraps everything in search actually puts it at a disadvantage.
When I’m looking for information I go to Google. When I want to buy something I go to Amazon. But that isn’t what Google wants to tell advertisers. Google needs those big spenders to think that people are searching Google to buy stuff. Amazon, OTOH, is a big retail search engine. People really do buy stuff there, not click thorugh ads to somewhere else to buy.
Try this: search Google for Sony Televisions. One of the top sponsored links is right to Amazon. If you see this enough, that direct link to Amazon for stuff you want to buy, sooner or later it will occur to you to just go to Amazon to look for stuff to buy. Just skip Google. And I have to think that is Google’s worst nightmare. If folks go directly to Amazon to buy stuff without searching Google first, then that ad money is lost to Google.
So, back to the bookstore. The Google bookstore is an attempt to try and harness the stuff that Google does real well, crunch lots of data in interesting ways, and turn it into retail dollars spent on the Google site. That would show Amazon! Look we can sell stuff too! It is a gamble though since retailing (even ebooks) is really different than search. But who knows, maybe some day a search for Sony Televisions will return a big “Buy Now” button taht takes you right to Google Checkout.