Google also may want to reshape how and when we buy books, says O'Leary. What he envisions is a Google search for, say, cats and fleas. Traditionally, results would be a list of Web pages with information on that topic. But what if, with Google Editions, Google decides to mix in a link to a book about cat health, with options for immediate e-book delivery, or delivery of a print-on-demand copy the next day?
The idea alone isn't what disturbs me; in fact, I find it pretty enticing. What bugs me is Google's track record for making stuff like this happen, which so far has been a mix of soft power strong-arming and implicit manhandling of copyright law.
... the more players there are in e-book publishing and distribution — and Amazon, Apple, and Google make a dazzling trio — the more negotiating power reverts back to the content creators and owners.
Or, it presents you with three equally bad ways to lose. Each of them have their own problems: Google I've groused about before; Amazon is determined to follow Apple's model in making sure the device and the content are inextricably wedded together; and Apple is ... well, Apple. Few pipelines exist to reliably provide literary content that isn't locked down, which tells me you're going to have to pick two out of three: open, well-distributed, convenient.
I'm going to go out on a limb and suggest that the fact competition exists does not automatically imply the consumer — or, in this case, the producer — benefits from such competition. Competition which consists of getting six of one here and half a dozen of another there is meaningless.