Hoping To Book More Business, Google Muscles Into Amazon's Turf
Currently, Google Inc. is in the midst of developing a service that lets prospective book buyers search for the actual text contained in book excerpts. So if a user had a favorite line from Shakespeare - say "(Life) is a tale told by an idiot, full of sound and fury, signifying nothing" - but did not know which play the lines are from, the Google search would ostensibly refer the user to Macbeth, and then to online retailers who sell it.
During the last year, Google has been busy trying to expand their search services, exploring new search-specific areas like products, catalogues, news, and Web logs. Froogle, Google's shopping web site, was introduced last year.
In order to perform this new excerpt search function, Google will need to have permission from publishers or related business partners to host and display this copyrighted book information. However, the idea of excerpt search is not unprecedented. In October, books and electronics retailing giant Amazon.com introduced a book excerpt search function on their site, which also allows consumers to search for words contained in the primary texts. Amazon launched the feature with the hope that it would yield more book sales, and received the permission of more than 190 book publishers to do so.
Google flatly denies that they are trying to compete directly with Amazon, one of their principal partners-Google powers Amazon's search and search-advertising services. Google execs claim that Google's service will not compete with Amazon's service but rather complement it, as the Google service will refer users directly to Amazon - and others.
In this instance, Amazon may benefit from Google's book-search feature, but as more and more ISPs and other major content providers begin to enter the search game, there may be trouble ahead for such partnerships. Search is increasingly the consumer's starting point for online activities. Comparative shopping search engines like Shopping.com and Google's Froogle service are currently all the rage, and Amazon recently established a Silicon Valley office to develop its own shopping-search service.