We may get to check out Google's long-anticipated entry into the digital-book sales market before the end of the year.
Google Editions, which was announced in spring and expected to launch in summer, is expected to be available in the U.S. by the end of the month, Google spokeswoman Jeannie Hornung told CNET today. In September, Hornung talked with CNET about some of the difficulties in launching the ambitious project, saying, "The real answer is, we'll launch the service when it's ready."
Google Editions is expected to open up a new distribution channel for digital-book publishers and give Amazon and Apple a new competitor in the booming digital-book market. However, a key difference is Google's "buy anywhere, read anywhere" approach, which means customers will purchase titles exclusively through a Web browser, instead of through an online store, as Amazon and Apple customers do. Customers will also be able to use any Internet-connected device--be it a personal computer, smartphone, or tablet computer--to access the books on Google's servers.
Google hasn't revealed who or how many partners it has in the effort. But traditional revenue-sharing models could be upset by the fact that customers wouldn't actually have their own copy of the books they purchase.
Amazon is the dominant player in the e-book field, claiming to command upward of 80 percent of the market. However, in an apparent 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.