Google is planning to shake up the way digital books are sold and is in the final stages of launching a new e-book retailing venture, Google Editions. The cloud bookstore is currently being held up by copyright negotiations with publishers and retailers.
The move could also mean that Google is close to launching either a proper tablet version of Android or that Chrome OS is finally about to arrive.
But either idea is to provide a “read anywhere” model whereby users can buy books directly from Google or from multiple online retailers and add them to an online library under their Google account and read them on any device with a web browser.
The move comes as Amazon.com’s grip on the nascent e-book market via Kindle appears to be slipping in the face of determined competition from Apple’s iPad and Barnes & Noble’s Nook.
A bookish new model
Google Editions customers will have the option of paying through their Google accounts or through an online retailer.
The purchased e-book will then be stored in an online book shelf accessible via any web-based device.
The business model will be based on a revenue-sharing deal between Google and publishers and Google will handle the online payments.
The impact of Google Editions will be interesting. It means smartphone and ordinary internet users who don’t own a tablet computer or dedicated e-reader can still enjoy e-books.
It will also enable ordinary publishers or retailers to play a role in e-commerce but let Google handle the technology and market reach.