Google Editions aims to bring e-books to all devices

Google logoGoogle has announced that it plans to sell e-books online through a service called Google Editions. It plans to simultaneously work with and against other e-book retailers, but wants to ensure that people can read books on nearly any device.

Booksellers looking for another avenue to hawk their wares online will be able to do so next year through Google. The company has announced that its new service, Google Editions, would launch at the beginning of 2010 with around half a million books and that users will be able to buy books on a variety of devices, including their computers and mobile phones, and possibly even e-book readers.

The books will be accessible on the Web, says Google, meaning that any computer or gadget that has a browser will be able to get to the site. The way Google Editions is being pitched, it sounds as if there won't be strict DRM on the offerings—Google says that it's meant to make books accessible from anywhere and that they can be read offline after being downloaded.

Many of the initial analyses of Google Editions have pitted it against Amazon and Barnes and Noble, but such comparisons are not so cut-and-dried. For one, Google is passing itself off as a book "wholesaler," not a distributor. Google Book Search's Tom Turvey said that Google Editions is meant to allow retail partners to sell books online and that the company doesn't expect to be a go-to source for digital distribution. "We expect the majority (of customers) will go to retail partners, not to Google," Turvey said, according to the Associated Press.

What does that mean? Not only can customers buy books from publishers through Google, they can also buy books from Amazon and Barnes and Noble through Google Editions. In this case, Google will keep 55 percent of the profits to split between itself and the retail partner in question, while 45 percent will go to the publisher. If a publisher chooses to go just through Google, Google will keep 37 percent and the publisher will receive the remaining 63 percent of the profits.

Google insists, however, that it has no plans to dive into the e-book reader market—that will be left for Amazon, Sony, and (probably) Barnes and Noble to battle out. Google seems to want to take a more open approach, enabling people to read books on any device they see fit. If anything, it means that publishers that are reluctant to commit to certain proprietary formats (cough Kindle cough) will be able to make money on e-books now without waiting to see who wins the war.

Source: ars technica

Tags: Google, Internet

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