So the web, twitter and it seemed like everyone in publishing and those not in it were talking a lot about Google Editions which is to come by end of year. Google Editions has some nice features and offers. Offline reading, which should just be standard, accessible from anything with a browser, very smart and hosted in the cloud. Now this is a very smart move, this helps take away the whole device issue and moves to what I have stated for the past couple years but others as well, that eBooks need to be device agnostic. No matter what you are using you can get to the eBook from anywhere, google may very well achieve this. Yet, there is one little hiccup, what about those people who want the actual eBook file, ePub, pdf or other format? Hosted in the cloud means no file to worry about, but I see some areas where they may want to have access to the file itself. Supposedly google will allow for an archival version to be downloaded and have to use for personal use, but let’s be real, will the rules be followed. I’ve also seen it may be only the PDF version and may have DRM on it, even if you choose no DRM to be applied. So the question here is what’s the deal, hopefully I’ll know more as I am actually asking them this question because it seems odd if you can have ePub but the archive version might be pdf, kind of defeats the purpose.
Google Editions also mentioned that format only matters in how they accept it and how they use on the backend but not for downloading. It’s weird.. send us ePub, but it won’t matter because you access online, ok… I guess. By no means am I slamming google, they are trying to approach the problem that is plaguing everyone, device snowstorm, which to choose, which to develop for and how to go about it. When you think about it, makes sense for google to work with ePub, it’s the defacto standard, people are designing for it, I know I am, so it’s a workflow ability where everything can flow easier. I look forward to seeing what becomes of google editions but mostly, will it actually launch come the start of 2011? Who knows, it could change again, maybe it’ll be like Microsoft’s courier and shutdown. I do know that people want eBooks, they want them the way they want them and they want them as soon as possible. They don’t want to wait, they barely want to pay the prices on them, which are much lower than the current hardcovers, that’s another blog topic.
I see Google Editions doing well, initially it’ll do great, it makes sense, largest search and discoverability engine, whether you like them or not, you need to jump onto it if you are an author or smaller pub and want your eBooks seen. It’ll be interesting to see how metadata plays out with it and how well it works for libraries? The ed market is watching this closely, they want to see what will their patrons/students be able to do with google editions, how will it affect eBook lending? If the archival version is the only version available to download and Google will be checking IP’s, which is how they will handle authentication apparently, so no passing your username and password to others, they’ll have to look at how they work with the ever-changing ed market. As libraries have stated loudly, the models out there are not ideal, so what will google’s be if any at all? All we can do now is sit and wait, see what happens and how well the platform, which it still is, is implemented and used and what the naysayers and google fanatics have to say.