That's the rumor going around. Sources are reporting that Google have been quietly meeting with UK booksellers last week, and Google are talking about how the booksellers could benefit from partnering with the Google eBookstore.
Google met with members of the Gardner's Hive network, a coalition of more than 400 independent bookstores. Over 100 booksellers were at the meeting, and according to sources Google panned to launch the UK service in the next 4 weeks.
Like in the US, participating booksellers will be able to earn a commission on any sale they make on ebooks supplied by the Google eBookstore. Gardner Hive members will also have an option of selling ebooks via their page on the Gardner Hive website. This would enable them to sell both ebooks from Google as well as the 180 thousand titles offered by Gardners.
Gardners commercial director Bob Jackson was at one of the meeting s with Google. He said: “E-books are just another format and booksellers are perfectly adept at selling books across different formats. I want them to take the opportunity to sell in as many formats as possible. If booksellers don’t engage in e-books and they are unable to sell them, then those sales are going to go elsewhere. They should address and embrace e-books as a new format and do what they need to [in order] to promote them to their customers as well as the other book formats.”
It's been just 10 months since the Google eBookstore launched in the US, where it boasts 3 million titles (the vast majority of which are public domain titles). This international should really come as no surprise; after all, I was the first to report on the possibility. It was just over a month ago that I posted about the new options that Google suddenly started offering publishers. Google had started allowing publishers to set the prices and sales terms for several new markets. Besides the UK, the other new markets included Canada, Australia, and New Zealand. There was no info to indicate that the local ebookstores would open anytime soon, but simply the fact that the options were now visible was a major step forward.
I'm also expecting to hear similar news coming out of Australia fairly soon. Not too long ago I found a job listing related to the Australian branch of the Google eBookstore., and it would make sense for Google to launch the several local ebookstores at the same time.