The nation's independent bookstores got another bit of bad news Thursday: Google Inc.is closing the books on them.
The Mountain View, Calif., search company said it is ending a program that enabled hundreds of independent booksellers to sell many of Google's millions of electronic books through their websites -- and to make a profit doing it.
The program was in part an attempt by Google to build a network of e-book retailers that could help it build its reputation as a major e-book player and to compete with rival Amazon, the dominant U.S. seller of electronic books.
Google is saying that program "has not gained the traction that we hoped it would," so starting next January, the company will sell electronic books only through its own online storefront.
"Looking at the results to date, it’s clear that the reseller program has not met the needs of many readers or booksellers," Scott Dougall of Google's digital publishing unit wrote in a blog post.
Oren Teicher, the chief executive of the American Bookseller Assn., acknowledged that e-book sales through the program had been "modest," but he noted that "from the start, we have recognized certain realities of our working with Google."
"Google has interests far beyond independent bookstores, and the book world at large, and, at times, it has lacked understanding of many basic principles of our industry," he wrote, adding that the end of the partnership would spur the association to find a better e-book vendor to work with.
"We expect to move forward quickly with one or more partners who will better understand -- and who will maintain closer ties to -- your stores, and to the book industry in general," Teicher wrote.