Rare Book Monthly

Articles - January - 2011 Issue

Google Opens eBook Store; Alibris an Early Partner

Googleebooks

Google now offers millions of books from its electronic-book store.

Internet search giant Google recently announced the opening of their highly anticipated electronic-book store. Formed in the 1990s to offer internet searching, Google has grown into a widely diversified high tech company, offering a wide breadth of services. In 2003, Google entered the book field by announcing it would begin scanning millions of older books with partner libraries, which would then be made available to the public via their website. Online access is available to millions of older books in full, or more recent (under copyright) books in snippets. However, technology has moved far beyond 2003, and consumers now expect the most recent titles in complete, digital copies, and that they be available on small, portable devices. Amazon led the charge; Google has now answered the call.

 

On December 6, 2010, Google launched their eBook store, offering 3 million titles, including more recent titles for sale, and older, out of copyright books, for free. This may be ground previously trod by Amazon, but Google hopes to make it more convenient for consumers to use. Google's selection is around a million greater than Amazon's, though it is likely most of that million consists of older or less in-demand titles. Where Google mostly tries to compete with Amazon is on issues of convenience, though this gap is rapidly closing.

 

Amazon's strength, and perhaps in some sense its weakness, is its dedicated Kindle eBook reader. When Amazon first launched electronic-book selling, it did so with a dedicated reader and an Amazon store from which those books had to be purchased. It was a closed circle. Exclusivity is a double-edged sword. It can lock the competition out, or lock yourself away from customers using a different reader or bookstore. Google took a different tack in that it offers no electronic reader. You need to buy that from someone else, virtually anyone except Amazon. Kindles still need books sold by Amazon, but Amazon did quickly respond to the other half of the readers' choice issue. Amazon's ebooks no longer have to be read on Kindles; they can be read online or on other devices too.

 

This opening of Kindle books to other readers should help neutralize what would have been a major advantage for Google. When you buy a book from Google, it can be stored both on your reader and in the "cloud." The cloud means you can access your eBooks through the internet. So, if you leave your electronic reader at home, you can use a different, compatible device, or an online computer, and read your books from there. It will even remember in the "cloud" where you left off, so you can pick up at the right page from another device. It's kind of an electronic bookmark. However, Amazon is now making its Kindle software available for other brands of devices, so that Kindle reader/buyers can do the same. Still, books for your Kindle reader need to be purchased from Amazon. Those owning other devices need not purchase all of their books from Google.

 

Google has also expanded its market by opening its library of electronic books to other sellers. Independent booksellers can become Google partners and sell Google electronic books from their own websites. Google has already signed up Alibris, the second largest online seller of used books, to its partnership program. This should both help Google sell more books while enabling traditional booksellers, who could not possibly develop a large library of electronic texts to sell themselves, to enter the eBook market. This could be critical to the survival of smaller book retailers as they try to compete in a world where books are increasingly turning digital. For larger merchants, such as Alibris, it allows them to keep up with Amazon. Alibris' CEO Brian Elliott issued a statement explaining, "This partnership with Google highlights our commitment to providing Alibris buyers with the best book selection available."

 

Rare Book Monthly

  • <b>19th Century Shop:</b> Charles Darwin on sexuality and the transmission of hereditary characteristics: Autograph Letter Signed to Lawson Tait. Down, 17 January [1877].
    <b>19th Century Shop:</b> MILTON, JOHN. <i>Paradise Lost. A Poem written in ten books.</i> London: 1667. A very rare example with the contemporary binding untouched and with a 1667 title page.
    <b>19th Century Shop:</b> Hamilton secures the ratification of the Constitution: <i>The Debates and Proceedings of the Convention of the State of New-York, assembled at Poughkeespsie, on the 17th June, 1788.</i>
    <b>19th Century Shop:</b> The social contract “Man is born free, and everywhere he is in chains”: ROUSSEAU, JEAN-JACQUES. <i>Principes du Droit Politique [Du Contract Social]</i>. Amsterdam: Michel Rey, 1762
    <b>19th Century Shop:</b> “The first English textbook on geometrical land-measurement and surveying”: BENESE, RICHARD. <i>This Boke Sheweth the Maner of Measurynge All Maner of Lande…</i>
  • <b>Swann Auction Galleries Apr 26:</b> Jacques-Émile Ruhlmann, wallpaper sample book, circa 1919. $15,000 to $25,000.
    <b>Swann Auction Galleries Apr 26:</b> Archive from a late office of the Breuer & Smith architectural team, New York, 1960-70s. $3,500 to $5,000.
    <b>Swann Auction Galleries Apr 26:</b> William Morris, <i>The Story of the Glittering Plain or the Land of Living Men,</i> illustrated by Walter Crane, Kelmscott Press, Hammersmith, 1894. $2,500 to $3,500.
    <b>Swann Auction Galleries Apr 26:</b> Gustave Doré, <i>La Sainte Bible selon la Vulgate,</i> Tours, 1866. $15,000 to $25,000.
    <b>Swann Auction Galleries Apr 26:</b> Gustav Klimt & Max Eisler, <i>Eine Nachlese,</i> complete set, Vienna, 1931. $15,000 to $25,000.
    <b>Swann Auction Galleries Apr 26:</b><br>Eric Allatini & Gerda Wegener, <i>Sur Talons Rouges,</i> with original watercolor by Wegener, Paris, 1929. $5,000 to $7,500.
    <b>Swann Auction Galleries Apr 26:</b><br>C.P. Cavafy, <i>Fourteen Poems,</i> illustrated & signed by David Hockney, London, 1966. $5,000 to $7,500.
    <b>Swann Auction Galleries Apr 26:</b> Jean Midolle, <i>Spécimen des Écritures Modernes...</i>, Strasbourg, 1834-35. $3,000 to $4,000.
    <b>Swann Auction Galleries Apr 26:</b><br>E.A. Seguy, <i>Floréal: Dessins & Coloris Nouveaux,</i> Paris, 1925. $3,000 to $4,000.
  • <b>Bonhams: Results from Fine Books and Manuscripts on March 9, 2018</b>
    <b>Bonhams, Mar. 9:</b> BEETHOVEN, LUDWIG VAN. Autograph Manuscript sketch-leaf part of the score of the Scottish Songs, "Sunset" Op. 108 no 2. [Vienna, February 1818]. Inscribed by Alexander Wheelock Thayer. SOLD for $131,250
    <b>Bonhams, Mar. 9:</b> Violin belonging to Albert Einstein, presented to him by Oscar H. Steger, 1933. SOLD for $516,500
    <b>Bonhams, Mar. 9:</b> EINSTEIN, ALBERT. Autograph Letter Signed ("Papa") to his son Hans Albert, discussing his involvement with the atomic bomb, September 2, 1945. SOLD for $106,250
    <b>Bonhams: Results from Fine Books and Manuscripts on March 9, 2018</b>
    <b>Bonhams, Mar. 9:</b> HAMILTON, ALEXANDER. Autograph Letter Signed, to Baron von Steuben, with extensive notes of Von Steuben's aide Benjamin Walker, June 12, 1780. SOLD for $16,250
    <b>Bonhams, Mar. 9:</b> NEWTON, ISAAC. Autograph Manuscript in Latin, being detailed instructions on making the philosopher's stone. 8 pp. 1790s. SOLD for $275,000
    <b>Bonhams, Mar. 9:</b> 1869 Inauguration Bible of President Ulysses S. Grant. SOLD for $118,750
  • <b>Doyle, April 25:</b> E.H. SHEPARD, Original drawing for A.A. Milne’s The House at Pooh Corner.<br>$40,000-60,000
    <b>Doyle, April 25:</b> BERNARD RATZER, Plan of the City of New York in North America, surveyed in the years 1766 & 1767. $80,000-100,000
    <b>Doyle, April 25:</b> THOMAS JEFFERSON, Autograph letter signed comparing Logan, Tecumseh, and Little Turtle to the Spartans. Monticello: 15 February 1821. $14,000-18,000
    <b>Doyle, April 25:</b> JOHN C. FREMONT, Narrative of the Exploring Expedition to the Rocky Mountains, in the Year 1842.. Abridged edition, the only one containing the folding map From the Sporting Library of Arnold “Jake” Johnson. $3,000-5,000
    <b>Doyle, April 25:</b> ZANE GREY, Album containing 94 large format photographs of Grey and party at Catalina Island, Arizona, and fishing in the Pacific. From the Sporting Library of Arnold “Jake” Johnson. $5,000-$8,000
    <b>Doyle, April 25:</b> WILLIAM COMBE, A History of Madeira ... illustrative of the Costumes, Manners, and Occupations of the Inhabitants. produced by Ackermann in 1821; From the Sporting Library of Jake Johnson. $2,000-$3,000
    <b>Doyle, April 25:</b> ERIC TAVERNER, Salmon Fishing... One of 275 copies signed by Taverner, published in 1931,From the Sporting Library of Jake Johnson. $2,000-$3,000
    <b>Doyle, April 25:</b> JOHN WHITEHEAD, Exploration of Mount Kina Balu, North Borneo. Whitehead reached the high point of Kinabalu in 1888. Part of a major group of travel books from the Sporting Library of Jake Johnson. $2,000-$3,000
    <b>Doyle, April 25:</b> JOHN LONG, Voyages and Travels of an Indian Interpreter and Trader, describing the Manners and Customs of the North American Indians... The first edition of 1791. $3,000-$5,000
    <b>Doyle, April 25:</b> SAMUEL BECKETT, Stirrings Still. This, Beckett’s last work of fiction with original lithographs by Le Brocquy, limited to 200 copies signed by the author and the artist. From the Estate of Howard Kaminsky.. $1,500-$2,500

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