Google's in the final stages of launching its long-awaited e-book retailing venture, Google Editions, a move that could shake up the way digital books are sold. According to the Wall Street Journal, the new service will allow users to read copyrighted books from Google Book Search.
"The long-delayed venture -- Google executives had said they hoped to launch this summer -- recently has cleared several technical and legal hurdles, people close to company say. It's set to debut in the U.S. by the end of the year and internationally in the Q1'2011, said Scott Dougall, of Google.[...]
Google Editions hopes to upend the existing e-book market by offering an open, "read anywhere" model that's 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'll be able to access their Google accounts on most devices with a Web browser, including personal computers, smartphones and tablets.
Google has signed deals with many major book publishers, and is expected to offer hundreds of thousands of titles for purchase, and millions more for free.
The majority of titles that currently are available in other e-bookstores would be available on Google Editions, "at launch or shortly after," said James Crawford of Google. Retail prices will be similar to those at Amazon and Barnes & Noble Inc."