Google Editions will launch in the US this year, with international launches to follow soon after in. Dubbed Google Editions, the new venture will take a different approach to book selling than most of its competitors, including Amazon’s Kindle or Apple’s iBookstore.
Instead of relying on a single, centralized store, Google will let users buy books either from Google or multiple online retailers, such as independent bookstores, and add them to an online library tied to a Google account. Users will be able to access purchased books on most devices with a Web browser, including computers, smartphones and tablets.
The online ebook store will allow users to download millions of books for free,” reports the Telegraph. Those wishing to download ebooks for their ebook readers, computers or smartphones will pay 80 per cent of the print edition’s lowest price.
Abraham Murray, product manager on Google’s Books team, said at launch in the US there would be over 400,000 paid-for titles available from “publisher partners”, along with 2m public domain titles, but that more titles would be made available once the service opened internationally. He said the company was working with more than 35,000 publisher partners, in more than 100 countries, and added that he hoped to launch in “much of Europe in first half of the following year”.
First announced at Frankfurt 2009, Google originally earmarked summer 2010 for launch, but has kept quiet on an official launch date sparking speculation that the service was proving problematic to get off the ground, and might even be shelved. “We are really looking forward to getting it out of the door,” Murray confessed.
Murray said Google would work with US publishers on “agency model” terms, though admitted this was not a model Google had sought and hinted that it might be subject to change. “We will meet the needs of the market, and we are accepting the agency model in the US, but we haven’t gone after it, and as that plays out we will follow.”
Experts have said that Google’s approach could prove disruptive in the fledgling ebook market.
Google Editions would help to make ebooks platform-agnostic, and could provide a lifeline for struggling independent publishers and booksellers struggling to get a foothold in the digital age.