My Publishing Industry Prediction for 2007

Pardon me while I go into John Dvorak mode.

Google will buy a publisher before the end of 2007. And given certain Bertelsmann grumblings about profit, I have a feeling it may be Random House.

I could be totally wrong on this, but consider the amount of amount of time and money Google has sunk into Google Book Search. Consider also Google’s aggressive efforts to find out what Microsoft and Amazon are doing. And what better way to sidestep publishers’ quibbles over GBS’s copyright infringement and apparent cut into sales than to buy the publishers outright?

Furthermore, one must consider the financial payoff of the Google Book Search feature. Surely, this is a company that cannot be conducting all this out of philanthropy. One stalwart way to recoup costs is through a print-on-demand feature, one publicly available in bookstores. And what better way to approach booksellers than by purchasing a publisher who has a vested history of doing business, thereby pushing whatever POD (or, perhaps, an ironically named GOD) features through a distributor that the booksellers have a history doing business with?

Of course, all this is speculation. But if this all goes down, you heard it hear first.


  1. That sounds about right. At that point, Microsoft will cease to be the 800-pound gorilla everyone hates, and Google will become the Great Satan.

    Then we can all start taking bets on who will replace them in about 20 years. (Hint: That company probably doesn’t exist yet. I’d hold my cash until the next killer app comes down the pike.)

  2. Interesting thought Ed, but I say no way. Google’s ad biz is incredibly profitable. Publishers are anything but.

    And anyway, Google is in the advertising business, it’s a middle man, not a content provider. Buying a publisher would be a huge step backwards for Google, and I think they’re too smart to do take a step like that. Having said that, it will be interesting to see where Book Search goes from here. I thought Tim O’Reilly’s post that book search should work more like Web search was interesting.

  3. The cultural clash would be great to watch (from afar).

    It’s an interesting idea. If Google wanted to purchase a content provider, it would be more about empire building than profits.

    My bets are on a movie studio.

  4. I’d have to say no!

    Just seems like a stretch too far to buy a big publisher. The POD stuff sure and working with retailers yes but the hassle of owning that kind of content?

    I think it may happen eventually but not yet!

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