Google: Your books will be “in the cloud” and booksellers will still matter

Google Books’ Engineering Director Dan Clancy gave a hint at the future Google sees for the digital book. On Clancy’s list:

  • Books will be stored “in the cloud”, that is, they will reside on the internet rather than being a file sitting on your computer or mobile device. Google would like its own servers to be powering the cloud.

“I believe people want their books stored in the cloud…. For most people, your library is something that you don’t pull books off all that often, but when you need it, you want it to be there. That’s where a cloud really works. You’re not going to actively manage it, but you want to make sure that five years from now, [it’s there],” says Clancy.

  • Books will be accessible by a wide range of devices from e-readers, to computers, netbooks and mobile devices.

“Our model is some people will read [our books] on a laptop, some will read them on the phone, some people will read on their netbook, and some people will read on their e-reader. And we’ll work with any reader provider that wants to make it so they can get their books from the Google cloud…, ” says Clancy.

  • Bricks and mortar booksellers will still have a place:

“[P]art of our model is to figure out we’re going to syndicate for our partner program all of the books we sell that are new, so that any bookstore can sell a Google edition and find a way that people can buy them in bricks and mortar stores as well,” says Clancy reassuringly.

In Google’s world as Clancy sees it, “we’re trying to make what would be an open model that encourages competition.” He wants to see lots of booksellers competing and lots of devices accessing books from the Google cloud. But he doesn’t see the booksellers’ role extending to managing those cloud-based libraries. “The consumer needs to trust that the person who’s providing the cloud will be there,” say Clancy. “So you don’t trust the cloud to some new startup that you’ve never heard of, or some small local bookstore, that you love to go to.”

Thanks to TeleRead for pointing out this link.

[Update 3 August] Here’s another interview with Google’s Clancy, this time from the Boston Globe. It includes reaction from some worried librarians and others, concerned at just how big this is becoming and the potential for a Google monopoly.

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