According to a Wall Street Journal report, Google is now in the “final stages” of launching Google Editions, which was originally expected to be up and running this summer. The project recently got past several technical and legal hurdles, the article said. Google Editions is expected to have an open format that will allow users to read purchased digital books through any device with access to a Web browser.
Scott Dougall, a Google product management director, tells the Wall Street Journal that Google Editions will launch in the U.S. by the end of December and internationally in the first quarter of 2011. The articles points out that “Editions” is a “long-delayed venture.” Many had speculated that the service would launch in the Summer of 2010.
Google has outlined details of the store, including the percentage of revenue it will share with publishers, in the past, and it doesn’t sound from the WSJ story as though anything major has changed. The store, which Google has said will feature more than 500,000 titles, will be device-agnostic, meaning that texts will be readable on any device with a browser. Consumers will be able to buy the electronic titles both on the Google Editions site, as well as on the sites of third-party retailers who are allowed to resell access.
Google Editions hopes to upend the existing e-book market by offering an open, “read anywhere” model that is different from many competitors. Users will be able to buy books directly from Google or from multiple online retailers—including independent bookstores—and add them to an online library tied to a Google account. They will be able to access their Google accounts on most devices with a Web browser, including personal computers, smartphones and tablets.
For those not familiar with Editions, it’s a service that’s going to allow customers to purchase books that they find through not only Google’s Book Search but throughout the internet. That means that customers will be able to buy books directly from Google as well as through several online retailers including independent book stores. From there, users will be able to stash those books away in a online library that’s linked to one’s Google account.
Amazon is the dominant player in the e-book sales, claiming to command upward of 80 percent of the market. However, in an apparently effort to stave off defections to rival e-book sellers, Amazon recently announced plans to give newspaper and magazine publishers a greater share of the revenue it collects.
Google is no stranger to digital books; The Internet giant announced plans in December 2004 to scan, digitize and make searchable the collections of five of the largest libraries in the world. However, the effort quickly became embroiled in lawsuits and negotiations over copyright issues. Google has signed deals with huge publishers which means Editions is going to offer hundreds of thousands of e-books for consumption and likely millions more for free. That should make it the largest e-book store on the planet right from the start. If that didn’t present the competition with enough problems, the prices of the paid content will be similar to the books found through Amazon and Barnes and Noble.