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11.14.2005

Google Book Rentals?

A report in the Wall Street Journal (Subscription Required) hints that Google may be looking to offer "rentals" of new books via its Google Print service.

Search company Google Inc. has approached at least one book publisher to measure interest in a program for consumers to "rent" an online copy of new books for a week.

According to this publisher, the books wouldn't be downloadable or printable. Those features may be worked out at a later time, he said. Although this publisher said that the proposed fee to end users -- 10% of each book's list price -- is too low, he said it still may represent a significant opportunity for publishers to tap the budding digital-book market.

While the exact shape of any rental approach by Google doesn't appear to be final, the current discussion with the publisher is a strong indication the Internet-search company plans to head in the digital book-renting direction. "Google Print is exploring new access models to help authors and publishers sell more books online, but we don't have anything to announce," a Google spokesman said.

This may be a response to Amazon.com's "Amazon Pages" program and Amazon's plans to allow purchasers of books to receive a digital copy for an additional charge.

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