The Wall Street Journal is reporting that Google plans to begin selling digital books in late June or July. It throws a big monkey wrench into the e-book battle between Amazon and Apple, and yet another battlefront in the company‚Äôs turf war with Apple.
According to Google, users will be able to buy digital copies of books they find through its book-search service. They will also allow book retailers, and independent shops to sell Google Editions on their own sites, giving partners the bulk of the revenue.
The company would also have copies on its servers for works it strikes agreements to sell. It‚Äôs yet to be decided what pricing model they‚Äôll follow; Google or publisher-based.
Chris Palma, Google's manager for strategic-partner development, announced the timetable for Google's plans on Tuesday at a publishing- industry panel in New York.
Users of Google Editions would be able to read books from a web browser‚Äîmeaning that the type of e-reader device wouldn't matter!
The company also could build software to optimize reading on certain devices like an iPhone or iPad but hasn't announced specific plans.
This project is Google's attempt to crack into the market of distributing current and backlist works.
Google isn't expected to run into trouble getting Publishers to join them, historically they tend to believe the more outlets to sell books the better. Even the smallest independent bookstore will have access to a sophisticated electronic-book sales service with a vast selection of titles.
"This levels the retail playing field," said Evan Schnittman, vice president of global business development for Oxford University Press. "And as a publisher, what I like is that I won't have to think about audiences based on devices. This is an electronic product that consumers can get anywhere as long as they have a Google account."
We‚Äôre all for this plan, anything that gives us more access to more books, is a good thing, especially old and out-of-print works, even better if we get to read them on the iPhone and iPad.