When Google Editions goes live, which still could be six months from now, the Web sites of booksellers who participate in ABA’s IndieCommerce will go live with it. But independents won’t be Google’s only partners, ABA could be selling e-books alongside Wal-Mart and Barnes & Noble. Those were among the revelations at the New England Independent Bookseller Association fall conference held last week in Providence, R.I., in a session about how the partnership between ABA and Google Editions will work.
If you've been paying attention, you already know that Google is on the verge of launching an e-bookstore called Google Editions. And you already know that Google Editions was partnering with independent bookstores to provide indie booksellers with an easy way to sell digital books through their websites.
(That the Google Editions store will be available through Wal-Mart and Barnes & Noble doesn't seem like much of a surprise, really. It seems like Google will let anyone set up a Google Editions store on their site; hell, you'll be able to buy Google's e-books through Google Edition's own site, too. The trick that independent booksellers need to learn is that you've got to use your site to curate the books and give customers a reason to buy the books from you. I think indies are better-positioned to do that kind of curatorial work—that actual bookselling—than the huge chains.)
But the big thing here is that Google Editions might not launch for another six months. When they first announced their e-bookstore, the story was that it was going to open in June or July, presumably before the fall book (and back-to-school) season. So what's the holdup? My completely half-assed guess (based on lots of prior evidence) is that the publishing industry is holding things up. (The publishing industry holds everything up.) I have an e-mail out to Google and will let you know if I hear anything back.