1 Dec 2010 12:25
The Wall Street Journal is reporting that Google Inc. is in the final stages of preparing Google Editions, an e-book service that will compete with Amazon and other players in the emerging market.
While Google executives had hoped to launch Google Editions in the summer of 2010, the plans were interrupted by several technical and legal hurdles. Those distractions have now largely been dealt with, according to people close to Google.
Google's product management director, Scott Dougall, says the service will debut in the United States by the end of the year, while completing an international roll-out in the first quarter of 2011. Independent booksellers began receiving contracts from their trade groups in recent weeks.
"Because of the complexity of this project, we didn't want to come out with something that wasn't thorough," Dougall said. The service differs from its largest competitors by offering open, read anywhere e-books that are not tied to a single set of devices. Users will buy the e-books directly from Google which will be available from a book library tied to a Google account, which can be accessed from almost anywhere.
It is unclear how Google will share revenue with publishers but the American Booksellers Association estimates that as many as 200 independent booksellers in the U.S. could sign up.
Google's search service attracts 190 million U.S. users per month, which analysts believe give it the ammo it needs to transform the e-book market. Digital book sales are projected to hit $966 million in 2010, compared to $301 million in 2009 (Forrester Research).