Frankfurt Book Fair, Google announced more details about their upcoming online ebook service known as "Google Editions." Originally revealed earlier this year, Editions will be a hosted electronic bookstore for a selection of in-print books which would be provided by Google's publishing partners. And unlike some other ebook formats, like those designed for Amazon's Kindle for instance, the so-called "Google editions" will be readable on any device whether that's a laptop, phone or dedicated eReader.At the
According to news coming out of the Book Fair event, the new digital books program will launch in the first half of 2010 and will offer 400,000 to 600,000 ebooks at that time.
Although we already knew that the online store would host books in the cloud, we didn't know just how that would work. Tom Turvey, Google's director of strategic partnerships, now explains that the device does not need to be connected to the Internet to read the book after it was accessed once. He also clarified that the company is "not focused on a dedicated eReader or device of any kind." Instead, consumers would go online one time from their device of choice and afterwards, a cached version of that book would be stored so that it could be read offline at anytime. "As long as you can get onto the library, you can access it," says Amanda Edmonds, Google's director of strategic partnerships, who was speaking at O'Reilly's Tools of Change conference, also being held in Frankfurt at a venue near the Book Fair event.
Although not specified, it seems probable that the offline caching done by Google Editions will be made possible via Google Gears, a browser extension that allows website content to be taken offline and then re-synced when an Internet connection returns.
As noted on The Bookseller, a site covering the Tools of Change conference, Google Editions will offer three business models. The first will allow a consumer to purchase the ebook from Google Books, Google's online collection of digitized books. The second will allow consumers to purchase from a partner retailer and the third would direct consumers to a publisher's website. In the first route, payments are split 63/37 in the publisher's favor. If purchasing from a retailer, that split would be 45/55 with the 45% going to the publisher and the retailer splitting the remaining 55% with Google. No decision has been made on the split for the third option, purchases made via a publisher's own website. Edmonds also noted that these splits are not set in stone just yet - discussions were "just beginning." In addition, Google may discount books from their list price where permitted, but the discount would be taken from Google's profits and not anyone else's.
Other news from the O'Reilly event pinned down the launch date of the Google Editions store. It will launch simultaneously in the U.S., U.K., and Europe in June 2010.
Google would not give the names of the device manufacturers they intend on partnering with, but Edmonds says she doubts Kindle will be one of them.