Google Editions to debut read anywhere e-books

A woman seated at a table, reading an ebook with an Amazon.com Kindle device.

With Google Editions, read anywhere e-books will be available on any device with a Web browser. (Photo Credit: CC BY/goXunuReviews/Flickr)

By the end of 2010, e-book lovers will have a new reason to be happy: Google Editions. Google wanted to have its ebook retailing operations ready by summer 2010, but technical and legal barriers stood in the way, reports the Wall Street Journal. Now the road is clear, and Google appears ready to give Amazon.com and other e-booksellers all they can handle with its “read anywhere” e-book format.

Google Editions teams with independent booksellers

Google Editions, which is expected to debut in the U.S. before New Year’s Day and by the end of first quarter of next year internationally, appears to be forming alliances with a wide variety of independent booksellers. Several publishers have admitted to “exchanging files” with Google, said Scott Dougal, a Google product management director. According to publishing industry insiders, this is a sign that Google Editions is very close to launch.

Going where other e-books cannot

The read anywhere e-book model that Google Editions will use is different from the vast majority of the competition, including Amazon.com, which currently holds at least 65 percent of the e-book market. After purchasing a Google Editions e-book directly from the search giant or from an affiliated online bookseller, the e-book file is tied to the customer’s Google account. With a Web browser – whether it be on a desktop, laptop, tablet or smartphone – customers can access their e-books, cloud computing-style.

While Amazon.com gives readers the flexibility to read their e-books on any device that runs Kindle software, the books generally must be purchased from the Amazon.com store. Some free titles are available from outside sources.

Share for independent booksellers currently unclear

Participation by independent booksellers in the Google Editions platform will largely depend upon the compensation offered, and the revenue percentage Google intends to offer is not currently known. Furthermore, the identities and number of bookselling partners for Google Editions is also uncertain, although the American Booksellers Association told the Wall Street Journal that more than 200 independent booksellers in the U.S. could be connected at launch. If Google can get major booksellers like Borders and Barnes & Noble to feature Google Editions content, it could be in line to dominate the e-book field quickly.

Sources

Wall Street Journal

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