Amazon & Google To Enter eBook Business

The New York Times is reporting that both Amazon and Google are entering the eBook business this year, joining Sony and others who already have products (the image to the right is Sony’s Reader).

The new Amazon product and service will be called The Kindle and will compete directly with Sony. Google will begin charging users to read the full text of some of the books they have indexed.

Amazon: The Kindle

The Kindle will be a device to read books – black and white screen, internet connectivity via EVDO and a keyboard to take notes and surf the web. The device, which will cost $400-$500, will interact with an ebook service run by Amazon.

The fact that the device can access books without being separately connected to a computer will be a big selling point over Sony Reader, which sells for $300. The Kindle will also be able to surf the web and users will also be able to read newspapers, magazines, etc.

I’ve had a chance to test the Sony Reader on a number of occasions and found it to be a great way to read books, although the content selection wasn’t great. The Kindle will also use E Ink technology for displaying content. It’s great for reading text in all light conditions but does not display video or other animation.

Amazon isn’t supporting the industry’s open standard around eBooks. Instead they are using their own proprietary format from Mobipocket, a company they acquired in 2005.

Like the iPod, the key driver of sales of the device won’t be the depth of content available on the associated service, but the availability of pirated, free content on BitTorrent and other P2P networks. eBooks are coming, but they’re not here yet.


Google isn’t getting into the device business. Instead, they will start charging users to view some full text books that they’ve indexed, although this is separate from the Google Book Search Library Project. No word on whether Google is sharing revenue with publishers.