Google eBooks: A Digital Publishing ARM


Six months after launch, there are more than 3 million free ebooks available in Google ebookstore and more than 250 independent booksellers selling Google eBooks from more than 7,000 publishers. Consumers have downloaded more than 2.5 million Google Books apps for iOS, Android and Chrome since December. What if Google gave Googlers and search engine marketers the ability to publish ebooks on related topics in its digital store?

In Tuesday's Search Marketing Daily blog, I wrote about Google's decision to publish an ebook on Jim Lecinski's concept of the "zero moment of truth" (ZMOT). It's an offshoot of Procter & Gamble's (P&G) vision for "the first moment of truth," which describes the first few seconds that consumers spend in a store aisle deciding whether or not to make a purchase.

Lecinski, a managing director of U.S. sales at Google, said the book he wrote, titled Winning the Zero Moment of Truth, would become one of the first few ebooks Google has published. Along with companion videos uploaded to YouTube, the book explains why marketers should pay attention and how the concept influences the sale of products and services.

The more Lecinski talked about Google, YouTube and ebooks, the more I realized Winning the Zero Moment of Truth could -- or rather, should -- become the first in a series of books from a new publishing arm to distribute insights from across the company on everything from display and remarketing to search.

Consider this: U.S. consumers will use more than 20 million ereaders this year -- up 60% from the prior year, according to eMarketer. The market research firm estimates that by 2012, 12% of adults will own a Kindle, Sony Reader, NOOK or similar device that allows them to download and read digital books and magazines.

Last week, Google released the Web Reader, a browser that allows people to read Google eBooks in its ebookstore without having to download them. The reader merely needs to double-click or highlight the text with a mouse and a pop-up menu opens that provides options to Define, Translate, Search Book, Search Google and Search Wikipedia.

Lecinski and a Google spokesperson declined to confirm my assumption that Google plans to support an ebook publishing arm featuring ebooks written by Googlers. In fact, when asked about the company's intentions related to publishing other ebooks, a Google spokesman couldn't say whether the company has plans to expand past publishing this one book.

Not launching a publishing ebook arm would create a major missed opportunity for the search engine to share the insights and expertise of Googlers, as well as link to search ads, Google properties, and promote Google search engine marketing and remarketing tools. Consumers could not only read ebooks on tablets, but smartphones and Google TVs.

Think of all the collateral and blog posts Google publishes yearly turned into summaries for ebooks distributed by Google eBooks. My assumptions are theoretical, of course. Wouldn't the increase of consumers reading ebooks help the rise of paid-search, display and remarketing ads? Not to mention ad revenue from location-based search -- which BIA/Kelsey estimates will reach $8.2 billion by 2015, up from $5.1 billion in 2010.


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