Google will forge into the e-book game with its new service, Google Editions, by the end of the year, reports the Wall Street Journal. Google promises that its service, unlike those from competitors Amazon and Apple, will offer e-books that consumers can read on most devices with a Web browser.
Readers will be able to purchase the books directly through Google or through other retailers, including independent and local bookstores. Instead of requiring a specific device or software, Edition users will be able to access the books from an online library tied to a Google account using their computer, smart phone, or tablet.
Here’s how Google describes the service to booksellers and rights-holders:
Google Editions is an upcoming program that will allow consumers to easily purchase and read digital editions of books. Consumers will be able to preview a book, as they do today in Google Books, and will also have the option to purchase its Google Edition. After purchase, the book will live in the consumer's online bookshelf, available to be accessed and read on most devices with internet access and a Web browser; as well as on supported partner devices (to be announced during our public launch).
The default list price, according to Google, will be "80% of the lowest list price of the print book (regardless of format)" unless sellers specify a different price. But Google reserves the right to "sell a book at a price discounted from its Google Editions list price, or to not sell a book." And Editions gives book sellers the option of declining to apply Digital Rights Management (DRM) software that limits how consumers can use the file. The information page tells potential sellers, "if you choose to make your Google Edition available without DRM, consumers will have more flexibility in using the content file."
The Washington Post suggests the new software could take advantage of HTML5 Web standards to "recreate a book's looks, down to specific fonts and pages that curl as you turn them with the cursor." Google highlighted that technology in a Web production called "20 Things I Learned About Browsers and the Web," but told the Post that it was not meant to preview Editions. The new service should also enable users to book mark their pages and share annotations between devices and other readers.
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Google Set to Launch E-Book Venture [Wall Street Journal] *subscription
Google readies Google Editions e-book store [Washington Post]
Getting started with Google Editions [Google]
20 Things I Learned About Browsers and the Web [Google]