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The New York Times reports that Barnes & Noble is working with Google to provide same-day delivery of books in select markets - Manhattan, Los Angeles and San Francisco - as a way of competing more effectively with Amazon.

The delivery service comes via Google Shopping Express, the year-old service that, as the Times writes, "allows online shoppers to order products from stores like Costco, Walgreens, Staples and Target, and have them delivered to their doors within hours."

The new deal with Barnes & Noble "differs from that of Amazon and other big retailers," the Times writes. "Instead of relying on warehouses full of merchandise, Google is using a fleet of couriers who collect products from local stores, sort and bundle them and deliver them within a three- to four-hour window selected by the customer. Delivery is free for subscribers to Google Shopping Express, and costs $4.99 per delivery, per store for others. Membership is free for the first six months. Google has not announced what the subscription fee will be."

The arrangement is designed to benefit both companies: "The partnership could help Barnes & Noble make inroads into online sales when its brick-and-mortar business remains stagnant. The company has closed 63 stores in the last five years, including some in bustling areas of Manhattan and Washington, leaving it with a base of about 660 retail stores and 700 college campus stores. Its Nook business fell 22 percent in the fourth quarter compared with the period a year earlier, according its most recent earnings report." At the same time, "Amazon’s popularity as an online shopping destination has the potential to undercut Google’s lucrative search engine advertising business. By adding Barnes & Noble to its list of 19 retail partners, Google is making a more explicit grab for Amazon’s turf. The partnership also comes at a moment when many authors and book buyers are frustrated with Amazon because of what they say are its punitive negotiating tactics in its standoff with the publisher Hachette over e-book pricing."
KC's View:
I'm amazed that it has taken this long for Barnes & Noble and Google to team up …. it seems to me that this can be a strong alliance, though they'll have to work very hard to overcome the competitive lead that Amazon has established for itself. I would suggest that one of the things that they could do is figure out a way to a) have a more collaborative relationship with big publishers, an area in which Amazon seems to be having some trouble lately, and b) work hard to embrace the small authors (like me!) that have found Barnes & Noble almost impossible to work with. It'll take a lot of effort, but that's where I'd be putting my focus - on creating a vibrant, diverse, and open content-rich environment.