Two of Amazon’s rivals are teaming up against the online bookselling behemoth.
Google and Barnes & Noble are working together to bring same-day shipping of B&N products to customers near B&N stores in West Los Angeles, New York City, and San Jose, Calif. Through the new option, customers can buy books, magazines, toys, and other products from B&N through Google Shopping, according to The New York Times. If you’re a subscriber for Google Shopping Express, the option is free. Otherwise it’s $4.99.
Amazon released its Fire Phone this summer and also began offering an unlimited Kindle e-book program in which customers pay a fixed amount per month. The company began offering same-day shipping for some cities in 2009. Amazon recently said it would be extending the service to six more cities.
The move by B&N and Google comes as Amazon continues to wrangle with publisher Hachette over the cost of e-books. It's a dust-up that appears to have done some damage to Amazon's image among book lovers. According to industry newsletter Shelf Awareness, a poll conducted by Codex Group found that more than 39 percent of book purchasers knew about the dispute and more than 19 percent of them had decided to purchase fewer books from Amazon as a result. “It's the first time we've seen people react to something about Amazon in a way that wasn't positive,” Codex president Peter Hildick-Smith said, according to Shelf Awareness.
As for the new service by Google and B&N, B&N chief merchandising officer Jaime Carey told Mashable that the rival company wasn’t a large factor in its decision to launch this new service.
“We don't spend a lot of time talking and thinking about Amazon," he said. "We think about serving our customers better.”
Opinions seem split as to whether the new program will help B&N, which closed 63 stores in the last five years. New York Times writer Alexandra Alter suggested that "the partnership could help Barnes & Noble make inroads into online sales when its brick-and-mortar business remains stagnant." But TechCrunch writer Darrell Etherington predicted that the same-day shipping is “unlikely to buoy the sagging fortunes of B&N too much."
"It may be tough to convince all those customers to come to Google Shopping to buy their books, instead of Amazon," noted Wired writer Issie Lapowsky.
"Still," she added, "there’s something to be said for Google’s approach. Even as technology has birthed new industries over the last several decades, it has simultaneously destroyed others. In a world in which the digital and physical are so often adversaries, it’s a hopeful sign to see Google supporting existing businesses to bolster its own."