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A really great article by Jeremy Greenfield in Digital Book World today.  It discusses, among other things, the economics of Google Books and why it failed.  Zola looks like a hit to me.  Read the whole article.

A new bookselling start-up funded by authors and other investors is forming partnerships with publishers and independent booksellers and aims to replace the Google eBooks re-seller program as the go-to platform for indies interested in selling e-books. Oh, and the company plans on taking on Amazon, too.

Zola Books is a New York-based start-up that has raised $1.3 million from investors, including well-known authors like Audrey Niffenegger (The Time Traveler’s Wife), Josh Bazell, (Beat the Reaper) and Chandler Burr (The Emperor of Scent) and plans to offer independent bookstores an online storefront from which to sell e-books, much like Google Books.

Founded in September 2011, Zola will offer readers a social e-reader and bookstore, independent bookstores a new place to sell e-books, and publishers another storefront to display their wares. When it launches to the public on September 19, the company plans to make a splash, offering readers a sizable selection of e-books, including titles that will only be available on Zola.

The Google eBooks re-seller program was hailed in 2010 when it was introduced as a lifeline to independent bookstores that were suffering due to sales lost to e-books. Google, through a deal with the American Booksellers Association (ABA), allowed independent bookstores to sell e-books to customers. But the program will end in late January, the search giant announced in April, because of lack of success. Independent bookstores were unable to persuade readers to buy e-books from anywhere but Amazon, the New York Times reported at the time.

“For us, it was just way too expensive,” said Katie Fransen, a book buyer at One More Page Books in Arlington, Virg. and the employee responsible for the store’s digital efforts. “The ABA charged a monthly fee and acted as a concierge between Google Books and the indies [independent bookstores]. They did the legwork in terms of programming the website.”

The ABA charges each bookstore around $200 per month to run the Google eBooks service, Fransen said.


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