Google has told UK bookshops that it is shutting its reseller programme, and has invited the affected companies to join the affiliates scheme instead.
The move was confirmed by Santiago de la Mora, director of print content partnerships for Google in Europe, the Middle East and Africa, after Google pulled the reseller initiative in the US, saying that it had "not gained the traction" that it had hoped it would.
De la Mora told The Bookseller: "We've announced the shut down of the reseller programme, which will affect reseller partners globally, including in the UK. However, we continue to operate the affiliate programme, and we've invited our reseller partners affected by the change to apply to be affiliates."
In a blog post, Scott Dougall, director, product management, digital publishing at Google, said that it was "clear that the reseller program has not met the needs of many readers or booksellers".
Both Blackwell and Gardners' Hive were touted as Google resellers at the launch of the e-book store, which meant that Google acted as the wholesaler, allowing the individual retailer to sell Google e-books to their customers direct. Only Gardners appears to be still operating as a reseller. The affiliates scheme still allows booksellers to feature Google e-books on their site, but the customer is then sent to Google to complete the transaction.
Google eBooks launched its e-book store in the UK in October last year. It had held various meetings with UK booksellers, including at the Booksellers Association's Independent Booksellers Forum, during which it offered booksellers the opportunity to become either a reseller or an affiliate.
The Booksellers Association said earlier this year that it was in "advanced" talks with two companies over an e-book platform that would provide independent bookshops with a way into the growing e-book market.
In the US, the American Booksellers Association has promised to have an alternative scheme in place through its IndieCommmerce platform before Google finally pulls its e-books.
Earlier this year, Google rebranded its app store as Google Play, bringing movies, books, music, apps and games within one retail portal.