Morning read: Google takes on Amazon, Sony still pining for synergy, more

Topping the news this morning, the New York Times reports that Google was telling publishers at the annual BookExpo over the weekend that it is committed to launching a new service by the end of the year that would allow publishers to sell ebooks directly to consumers at prices set by the publishers. That would put Google in direct competition with Amazon, setting up a potential clash of titans that will likely bring renewed attention to the ebook market.

google-amazonAccording to the Times, publishers are thrilled with the plan because it would let them fix retail prices while Amazon insists on loss-leadering ebooks to promote sales of Kindles. The new program would be separate from Google’s proposed settlement with publishers in the book-scanning case, which awaits court approval and is under investigation by the Justice Department. Meanwhile, Ars Technica reports this morning that the EU may also being looking into the deal.

Elsewhere this morning, Daily Variety has an inadvertantly funny story up about Sony’s latest effort to spin the combination of Blu-ray and PS3 as a good idea: bloated gameware that can only fit on Blu-ray discs. “What Blu-ray has allowed us to do is build these epic experiences,” SCE’s Scott Rohde tells the Hollywood trade. “When you have more room on the disc to store more assets, you can do a lot more with your titles.”

And when you have a Blu-ray drive in your game console you have to charge more for the console, making it uncompetitive with the Wii and Xbox 360.

Sony will introduce a bunch of first-party Blu-ray games at E3 this week. Variety‘s Marc Graser manages to scrounge up one third-party developer, Naughty Dog, to offer a tepid endorsement of the Blu-ray as a publishing platform. Wait’ll they see the replication bill.

In other Sony news, some leaked video and photos have made the long-rumored PSP Go the buzz heading into E3 (per the BBC). The big news: UMD is out as the storage medium, and a 16 gig flash drive is in.

Across the Pond, the U.K. film industry wants to government to introduce “speed humps,” on the Internet to slow down illegal file-sharing, the Guardian reports (alas, Media Wonk’s speed-humping days are mostly behind him…). The studios “are proposing that Internet service providers (ISPs), some of whom have previously sent letters to persistent illegal file-sharers warning that their actions could land them in court, should put in place technical measures that would shut off or warn about sites used by pirates.”