Not content to watch Amazon, Barnes & Noble, Apple and others eat up all the revenue from sales of electronic books, Google is busy prepping its own digital book store called “Google Editions.”
The project is aiming to launch before the end of the year here in the U.S., Google’s Scott Dougall told the Wall Street Journal. And unlike competing bookstores, Google Editions books will be readable on any device with a web compatible browser—computers, tablets, and cell phones. Amazon’s Kindle book store, by comparison, only works with Amazon’s own software, though there are Kindle apps available for just about every device already.
Google’s James Crawford told the Journal that Google Editions will contain many of the same electronic titles for sale by the likes of Amazon and Barnes & Noble and that book pricing will be roughly the same as well. (More on Techland: Does Google Me Exist?)
The initiative also intends to enable website owners to earn referral fees by linking directly to copies of certain books, a feature that would enable smaller, neighborhood brick-and-mortar book stores to easily set up an online extension of their businesses, for instance.
Books purchased will be kept on Google’s servers for retrieval from any compatible web browser. It’ll be interesting to see if Google enables some sort of “read offline” feature for when an internet connection isn’t available and whether or not the rudimentary web browsers available on dedicated hardware e-book readers such as the Kindle will be able to open the books.
Finally, there’s the question of copy protection. The “ePub” standard is already available for electronic books but doesn’t prevent duplicating and sharing between users, so it hasn’t quite caught on with major publishers. It’s likely that certain Google Edition books would be authenticated against a user’s own Google account in order to prevent piracy.
Google already has a vested interest in electronic books with its Google Books service. Google Books offers full versions of out-of-copyright books and snippets of in-copyright books that are directly readable online. It’d stand to reason that Google Books and Google Editions would behave in a complimentary fashion. Snippets of in-copyright titles from Google Books could link directly to the full version available for purchase from Google Editions, for instance.
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