Google Books, Amazon Kindle to collaborate?

The head engineer of Google (NYSE:GOOG) Books would like to sell his library on the Amazon (NASDAQ:AMZN) Kindle.

Dan Clancy of Google told Reuters, "If Amazon allowed Kindle users to buy from Google Editions it would be easy for the two companies to set up the sales." In that scenario, there are two big "ifs." First, Google is still embroiled in disputes with publishers, authors, and the Justice Department about license fees and copyright issues. The legal portion of that fighting could go on for months and perhaps years.

It is unlikely that Amazon would want to put e-books that are part of a series of lawsuits on its Kindle. That might cause Amazon legal problems of its own for distributing books that have copyright issues.

Perhaps the bigger "if" is why Amazon would cooperate with Google at all. Amazon has done a great deal of work to create its own library of e-books and e-magazines which now number of 350,000. Adding Google Books to that list could alienate authors who believe that the Google books royalty structure is unfair. It could also help Google compete with Amazon.

It is still not clear what Google will do with its books business. It could set up distribution arrangements with Kindle competitors. It would create and sell an e-reader device of its own. It could create free open-source software to run e-reader devices as it did with the release of Android for handsets.

Google and Amazon are probably natural enemies in the e-reader and e-book industry. That makes the suggestion by Google that the two form a relationship unlikely.

Douglas A McIntyre is an editor at 24/7 Wall St.

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