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Indie Bookstores Opt-In to Google eBooks

By Betsy Mikel in Arts & Entertainment on Dec 22, 2010 8:20PM

2012_12GoogleeBooks.gifEarlier this month, Google launched its eBookstore, which presently has more than 3 million eBooks that can be read on the Web, smart phones and various eReaders. The same day the Googlomerate launched their eBooks marketplace, local independent bookstores like Seminary Co-Op Bookstore Inc., The Book Cellar and Women & Children First Inc. did, too.

These bookstores and a bunch others across the country have partnered with the American Booksellers Association to opt-in to sell Google eBooks through their online stores. There’s a formula involved to determine who gets how much of each sale, but it basically works like this: Google gets a cut, the American Booksellers Association gets a cut and the indie bookstore gets a cut.

Indie bookstores can’t afford to launch their own e-book platform or commerce site, so Google seems to be doing some good in the name of promoting local business. “It helps us stay relevant,” said Suzy Takacs, owner of the Book Cellar in Lincoln Square. “I couldn’t do it without them, and I want my customers to be able to support their local independent bookstore.”

Takacs admits she is not yet an ebooks pro. She’s learning the ropes, and she’s okay with that. “There were a lot of steps in between the 8-track tapes and the MP3 player,” she said. So Takacs is working with her customers and their questions, collaborating with fellow indie bookstore owners who’ve also opted into selling Google eBooks and is looking to the American Booksellers Association for guidance when it comes to working out the kinks in selling ebooks through the Book Cellar.

We were intrigued by this Google eBooks business, so we poked around to learn some more. Apparently, the project has been in the works for years. Once you download the free app, which is supported on the Web, iPhone, iPad, iPod touch, Nook and Sony (but not Kindle), you can purchase and read a wide range of Google eBooks, from new releases to classics - and actually, many of the classics are free. It sounds too simple. Almost too simple. Apparently independent publishers may even sell their books on Google eBooks, as long as they can provide a PDF or ePub files of the pages. Which got us thinking. Could zines live in the digital world?