Google has launched a set of Book Search APIs (aka tools) that allow any site to access and integrate Google Book Search functionality.
We’re launching a set of free tools that allow retailers, publishers, and anyone with a web site to embed books from the Google Book Search index. We are also providing new ways for these sites to display full-text search results from Book Search, and even integrate with social features such as ratings, reviews, and readers’ book collections. By providing tools that help sites connect readers with books in new and interesting ways, we hope publishers and authors will find even wider audiences for their works.
Google is featuring partnerships like Books-A-Million that are using the Google Preview functionality.
I have mixed feelings about this initiative. The tools do help expose more people to more books. Yet, I have misgivings about Google being in the middle of so many book interactions. It feels to me like Google is trying to figure out whether it should make a larger investment into the book vertical. Trust me, they’re interested and no retailer should be running to Google with open arms in my opinion.
Google Base and Google Checkout together let nearly any seller (publisher, author, dealer) upload and sell books on the single largest distribution network on the Internet. The Google Book Search tools simply make it a more robust platform. You can cobble together Google Apps, Google Sites, Google Base, Google Checkout and Google Book Search and completely cut out middlemen like say … Amazon.com.
Perhaps this is a good thing though. If Google were to enter the market (for real) they might help increase sales and do so at slightly lower prices. However, this would likely be at the expense of aggregators like Amazon, Alibris, Abebooks and Biblio.
For now it seems like Google is satisfied to watch the game of double dutch, rocking back and forth poised to jump in at just the right time.