Google announced today in a post on the Inside Google Books blog that it would be discontinuing its reseller program that allowed independent booksellers to sell through Google’s eBook services. The American Booksellers Association sent letters to its members informing them that about 350 independent bookstores selling eBooks through Google’s reseller program would end as of Jan. 31, 2013. The full letter (via Paid Content) is below.

Google’s explanation comes from Director of Product Management for Digital Publishing Scott Dougall:

Looking at the results to-date, it’s clear that the reseller program has not met the needs of many readers or booksellers. While our role as an ebooks wholesaler to booksellers will be coming to a close next year, we remain as committed as ever to making the eBooks experience from Google the best it can be for readers around the world.

For books that customers have already purchased, Google confirmed they would continue to “be able to access and read their eBooks on the web, phones, tablets and compatible eReaders.” Google will also help its 16 reseller partners “as they transition in the coming months” by continuing to give access to free Books APIs and highlighting them in the “Buy this book” section of Google Book search.

The full letter from the ABA to its members is below:

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Dear Bookseller:

We were notified Tuesday afternoon by Google that they will be discontinuing the Google eBooks reseller program, worldwide, effective January 31, 2013. As you may be aware, the reseller program is Google’s program as an e-book wholesaler to numerous online retailers, including IndieCommerce, as well as Powell’s and other partners in the United States and around the world, including partners in Canada, the UK, France, and Australia. Google’s decision to discontinue the program is, therefore, far larger than just IndieCommerce and the users of our product. After January 31, 2013, Google will sell e-books through Google Play only.

To say the least, we are very disappointed in Google’s decision, but, we have every confidence that, long before Google’s reseller program is discontinued, ABA will be able to offer IndieCommerce users a new alternative e-book product, or choice of products, that will not only replace Google eBooks as it currently works on IndieCommerce sites but that will be in many ways a better product.

From the start, we have recognized certain realities of our working with Google. As an enormous, multinational corporation, 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. Also, recognizing that it is never advantageous to rely too solely on only one vendor, throughout the time of our relationship with Google, ABA has been actively engaged in talking to many other potential industry partners, in case the need arose to replace or to supplement Google’s offering.

As you recall, we partnered with Google in 2010 because it was the only viable means for us to enter the e-book market, but, like so much else in our industry, things have changed rapidly, and we have options that simply did not exist 18 months ago. While we know that our volume of e-book sales has been modest, we also know that being able to offer e-books to your customers is an indispensable feature of any bookstore’s web offerings, and this capacity has helped drive online traffic that has contributed to increased overall sales. Moreover, we’ve all learned a lot about selling e-books in the last year and a half, and we’re looking forward to the opportunity to build an improved product.

We are totally committed to providing IndieCommerce stores the means to continue to sell e-books, and, at minimum, 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.

We recognize that this is a significant development, and I want to underscore that, in this transition period, Google eBooks will continue to be available via your websites. We also have every reason to believe that e-books purchased from your store will persist in your customers’ Google Accounts after the reseller program ends. We will share additional details as we learn them.

I know that change can be disconcerting and disruptive, but with input from the ABA Board, our Digital Task Force, and our Indie Commerce Advisory Council, we will get through this, and, in the end, I am confident that we will be able to offer a better and more robust e-book product.

If you have any questions, please, don’t hesitate to contact me or Matt Supko, ABA’s Technology Director at [redacted].

best regards,

Oren J. Teicher Chief Executive Officer American Booksellers Association

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