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.