updated 01:05 pm EDT, Tue May 4, 2010
Google Editions store due by summer
Google today committed itself to launching its Google Editions e-book store by late June or July. The store will let those searching for books online buy them either through Google itself or through third-party sites. Resellers will collect the majority of the revenue if they put the books on their own pages.
The company's approach will also contrast sharply with those of Amazon and Apple by allowing books bought from its store to work on different devices. The exact choice of format isn't known but is likely to involve ePub, which can use copy protection when needed but works on platforms like the Kobo eReader and Barnes & Noble Nook. Copy protected e-books likely won't work in iTunes as these require Apple's own DRM scheme, but native iPad and iPhone apps may have their own containers to support the format.
The catalog was previously expected to include 400,000 to 600,000 e-books but would center primarily on new or still-in-print releases. Google already offers public domain books and has faced stiff opposition for a proposed licensing scheme that would have given it control over out-of-print books for which publishers couldn't or didn't claim rights.
Google's plan partly reflects its competition with Apple but would likely avoid supporting some of Apple's direct competitors or putting Editions on Apple devices. Executives have usually characterized the book efforts as a means of preserving and promoting literature rather than a competitive effort. [via WSJ, subscription required]