It looks like I was right on Saturday when I posted that the UK Google eBookstore would open soon; I have to say that it happened faster than I expected. The UK branch of the Google eBookstore is now up and running (here).
According to Google, the eBookstore has hundreds of thousands of titles for sale in addition to the couple million PD titles digitized in the Google Books project. Google signed deals with a number of UK publishers, including Random House, Hodder & Stoughton, Hachette, and others. They’ve also worked out a deal with indie bookstores via the Gardner Hive network. This deal offers the booksellers much the same terms as a similar partnership with US booksellers; they can earn a commission on customers they direct to Google and they also have the option of selling the ebooks themselves.
Readers can now buy ebooks and read them on all of Google’s apps (iOS, Android, as well as online via a web browser), but there’s no sign that Google have partnered with an ebook reader like they did in the US. The iriver Story HD, while not terribly popular or successful, is available in the UK so there’s nothing stopping Google from using it there.
This launch comes just over a year since the Google eBookstore first launched in the US (December 2010). The exact details haven’t been shared, but by all indications the US eBookstore seems to be lagging behind in the marketplace. Most estimates of ebook market share mention Kindle, Nook, and Kobo, while the Google eBookstore is rarely mentioned.
So now that the UK branch has launched, it’s time to turn our eyes on Canada, NZ, and Australia. We already know that Google are prepping the eBookstore to launch in those countries but we don’t know when.