By Joe Wikert
Even though you probably never stray from the Kindle reader app, I’d like to encourage you to expand your horizons.
Keep an eye on Apple’s iBooks and Google Play, for example, to explore other platforms and keep Amazon honest. After all, Amazon’s need to innovate diminishes if ebook platform competition dries up.
When Google recently announced plans to add a Discover feature to their ebook reader app, I was curious to learn more. Google is the king of search, so I was hoping they could use their brawn and data to create a major breakthrough on the book discovery front.
I assumed Google would look at my Play ebook library and base some assumptions on what I’ve bought and read over the years. I figured they’d let me recalibrate their assumptions to better suit my interests; for example, they know I like hockey books but my Google purchases haven’t focused on my favorite team, the Pittsburgh Penguins. Lastly, since Google monitors my Gmail inbox and search requests, I also assumed they’d use that information to fine tune their book recommendations in their new Discover service.
My hopes were dashed and my assumptions proven wrong when I saw the results. Google Discover is nothing more than a dumping ground of all things books. They apparently assume that if you read books you’re interested in everything about books. But that’s like assuming a 70’s rock enthusiast is interested in all types of music including disco, jazz, classical, rap, etc.
How could Google get it so wrong? I’ve got to believe usage of Google Discover is pathetically low. If so, I hope the poor performance doesn’t discourage Google from going back and doing it right the next time.
Google needs to leverage all that data they have about us, more than Amazon has, go back to the drawing board and come back with a Discover 2.0 service that really works and is deeply engaging.
Reproduced with permission from Joe Wikert’s Digital Content Strategies.
The whole ebooks ecosystem simply doesn’t work.
Not surprising. When Google started making noises about creating an online library, I tried, through the blog of one of their lawyers, to get them to create a giant online database for authors and books—a much-needed registry not available anywhere else. They chose to steal books instead, hence the fuss of the Google book settlement. In that settlement, the Authors Guild was trying to create that registry. The death of the settlement seems to have killed that idea.
Google simply doesn’t understand books. They’re hardly alone. Apart from the small iBooks team at Apple, the same is true there. The leadership of Silicon Valley are people who grew up listening to music and doing drugs. The world of books and the accompanying ideas are foreign to them. That’s why you’ve discovered that Google Discovery is a “dumping ground of all things books.”
That said, Google search is one way to get around Amazon’s deceptive search engine, which hides lower priced items when a higher priced one is available. I noticed that about 2001 and had a Amazon lawyer defend the practice to me. It’s finally getting a little notice in the slow-on-the-uptake news media.
In the end, it doesn’t matter. Someone the size of Google isn’t necessary for creating a good book discovery mechanism, one that isn’t beholden to any one retailer. As an author, I’d love to have one website I could send people to that would link to all the sources of my books along with their prices.
A Google person is the co-chair of the W3C DIGIPUB-IG which is a joint IDPF/W3C effort to find the successor for ePub.
@mac2net I think that the combining of IDPF/W3C is still in the exploratory stage.
From IDPF in August of this year:
On May 10, IDPF and W3C announced that we were jointly exploring the potential to combine our organizations to accelerate EPUB adoption and advance publishing technologies for the overall Open Web Platform. Since the announcement, both organizations have received significant feedback from members and industry stakeholders, which we are in the process of evaluating and considering with regard to specifics of a prospective combination. IDPF has already organized several webinars and meetings to discuss the combination with our members, and we currently expect to communicate to members within the coming month to respond more holistically to member feedback and announce next steps on the prospective combination. Meanwhile, additional member feedback is welcome: email comments to email@example.com
LOL Frank, what are you tying to say? I suggest you scan the DIGIPUB-IG and the repository issues on GitHub and then I would like to hear what you really think.