Google has been talking to Brazilian booksellers and publishers for a while now, but on Thursday last week, it made it official, gathering potential partners to promote its store and tools aimed at the publishing industry. This follows the news that both Amazon and Apple are also setting their sights on the country, prompting Google to speed up its negotiations with potential partners to help launch its book business in the country.
Some 100 people met at Google’s headquarters in Sao Paulo, where the company gave presentations on its services and answered questions — keeping quiet, at least publicly, about its business model and details about remunration.
“All information will be discussed individually,” said Newton Neto, manager of strategic partnerships for Google in Brazil.
But, in an interview with PublishNews, Chris Palma, head of international partnerships, said that Google, at least in US, has established a standard where it keeps 65% of the value of any transaction when acting as a wholesaler, splitting this revenue with the booksellers. Google retains 55% when it acts as the retailer.
At the meeting, Google explained the use of Google Preview and Google Books — which, the company said, has partnerships with 40,000 publishing partners in 100 countries, amounting to two million book titles. So far in Brazil the company had already enlisted 200 publishers, representing 30,000 books.
Pushing Digital Conversion
Google urged Brazilian publishers to invest in the digital market as part of a pitch for its Google eBooks service. According to Tom Turvey, Google’s director for strategic partnerships, e-book revenues in the American book industry already account to 23% of the total, up from 6.2% in 2010. “The transition is inevitable,” he said. “You can fight it or join it. As we say in Google, you can be in front of the bus or you can be on the bus.”
With Google eBooks, publishers can make their digital books available for sale in Google’s cloud — either in PDF or EPUB formats — or they can deliver their physical copies that Google will convert for free. It is “faster and higher quality than any other company can do,” said Palma.
One advantage? A publisher can get its back catalogue converted into e-books without costs. One apparent disadvantage? The file is not given to the publisher and remains, exclusively, in Google’s cloud. It is the publisher who then defines in which territories its e-books can be sold, on which devices it can be accessed, and how much of the text can by copied, pasted, printed.
E-books for Booksellers
Google also noted that they are going to offer booksellers a similar ability to sell e-books as they do in the United States — the difference being that in Brazil, it is targeting the biggest booksellers. “We don’t see that (partnering with indie booksellers) happening here. We would like to work with the industry leaders,” said Neto.
Mauro Widman, the manager for e-books at Cultura, the second largest book retailer in Brazil, said that “Google’s platform has technological resources that our own doesn’t yet have,” such as synchronization of books across different devices.
Google said it intends to launch its e-book store in Brazil in 2012, but has not settled on a date.
To be continued…