Google’s vision for Google Books obviously goes far beyond the controversial Google Book Search settlement with the Authors Guild and the AAP. The Google Books settlement mostly dealt with the past and out-of-print books. In a talk at the Computer History Museum in Mountain View last night, however, Google Books’ engineering director Dan Clancy laid out a clearer vision of the company’s plans for Google Books for the first time. Among other things, the company hopes to create its own electronic bookstore for in-print books. In Google’s vision, publishers would partner with the company and offer all of their books through Google and through traditional retailers.

Google’s eBook Store in the Cloud

In his remarks, Clancy stressed that he doesn’t believe that brick and mortar book retailers will die anytime soon. He did, however, argue that book retailers will have to adapt to the changing environment and start to offer digital copies of books in addition to regular print copies. In Clancy’s vision, Google will “syndicate for our partner program all of the books we sell that are new, so that any bookstore can sell a Google edition and find a way that people can buy them in brick and mortar stores as well.”

Clancy did stress, however, that books will always be stored in the cloud, so we are not quite sure if this means that users will basically only buy access rights to a book but won’t be able to store a copy on their devices for offline reading. As most book publishers are still extremely nervous about the potential for piracy, cloud storage might indeed be a way to alleviate some of these fears for Google.

Google Editions: Readable on Any Device

Clancy also stressed that these “Google editions” should be readable on any device, including laptops, phones, and dedicated eReaders. In addition, Google wants to work with any publisher that is willing to work with Google to offer books in the Google cloud.

Of course, Google’s relationship with publishers is rather rocky, so it remains to be seen how many publishers would really want to sign on to this program. At the same time, though, most publishers also aren’t exactly happy with Amazon either. What is clear, though, is that Google plans to create its own cloud-based alternative to eBooks stores from established retailers like Amazon and Barnes & Noble.

Thanks to E.E. Boyd from MediaBistro for transcribing Clancy’s remarks.