Bloomsbury signs deal with Google

Bloomsbury has signed up to Google eBooks ready for its launch in the UK next year, as the internet giant confirmed it is in talks with the Booksellers Association ahead of bringing the platform to Europe.

The new cloud-based ­service enables customers to buy e-books through Google eBooks, participating retailers and publishers’ own websites. Readers can then store and access their e-books through a personalised account.

Head of Google Books Europe Santiago de la Mora said talks with the BA had already taken place, with Tim Godfray, chief executive of the BA, confirming it has been in “constant touch with Google for some time”. Jason Hanley, Google’s strategic partner development manager in London, recently addressed the BA Advisory Council, counselling that UK booksellers will be able to trade in Google eBooks in a similar way to US booksellers, providing they have the correct interface. Godfray said he hoped Google would also meet with the BA’s Independent Booksellers Forum.

Foyles c.e.o. Sam Husain, said: “We are certainly very pro it, and we would love to have another player. It’s open to all booksellers, there are no proprietory angles and no closed doors as far as I can see.”

UK publishers also responded positively to Monday’s US launch. Bloomsbury titles will be available on the new platform once it reaches Europe. Executive director Richard Charkin said: “We think it’s absolutely terrific; we think it’s good for authors, good for publishers, good for independent booksellers.” He added: “It will drive more sales online, but at least [independents] are in with a chance.”

Fionnuala Duggan, Random House Group digital director, said: “Random House Inc in the States is making all its adult and children’s e-books available on the Google e-bookstore from launch and we are having productive and ongoing talks about being involved with the UK launch next year.”

Sara Lloyd, Macmillan’s digital director, said: “We’re excited to see the launch of Google eBooks in the US and look forward to a roll-out beyond the US. They’re a welcome partner and bring a new and unique ­offering.”

This came as Amazon this week stepped up its own e-reading offer, launching its Kindle for Web service in the US. This will enable customers to read Kindle books on any web browser, sharing the cloud-based element of Google eBooks. It will also allow authors and independent booksellers to sell Amazon e-books from their own websites. Evan Schnittman, Bloomsbury’s group m.d. for sales and marketing, said: “Anyone that has any platform with any legs moving forward is on cloud.”

Google is yet to confirm a timetable for its worldwide eBooks launch, but de la Mora said: “We are now fully committed to Europe 2011. The UK is a very important country for us, and you could say a natural fit.”