The American Booksellers Association is exploring the possibility of bringing its own e-book reader to market in the United States, with the device as important as the content, the organisation's c.e.o. said.
Oren Teicher said the organisation was in talks with a number of companies about the move. If it goes ahead, it will become the first bookselling trade organisation to launch its own device, going head to head with Amazon's Kindle, Apple's iPad and Barnes & Noble's Nook.
Teicher was coy about a timetable for the device's release or at what stage the discussions were. "We understand that for the customer, the device is as much a part of the equation as the content," he said. "Over time, stores in the e-book business will probably have to do more than sell the content. They will have to sell the device as well."
He said bookshops were perfectly placed to sell e-book readers, citing Barnes & Noble's success with the Nook. It earned $277m across e-books, devices and accessories in the 12 weeks to the end of July, up 140% on 2010. He said: "B&N's success is a testament to how readers behave at different times. We have seen during the past year that they still want to read physical books as well as digital."
The ABA has been in partnership with Google since it launched its e-books service in December. In the US, 325 independents across 400 stores use the ABA's e-commerce platform to sell Google e-books. From a low starting point, Teicher said indies have seen significant growth in e-book sales during the last 10 months.
Google launched its e-books platform in the UK last Thursday. The digital company is expected to turn its attention to bringing it to Australia and Canada next, with European countries to follow in 2012.
Teicher said the relationship with Google has been a learning process. He said one criticism of the service is the company is not as nimble in making new books content available for sale. He added: "Ensuring content is available simultaneously everywhere is something we have been trying to work with them on."