Google will launch its digital bookstore in the U.S. by the end of the year and internationally in the first quarter of 2011, according to the Wall Street Journal. Dubbed Google Editions, the new venture will take a different approach to book selling than most of its competitors, including Amazon’s Kindle or Apple’s iBookstore. Instead of relying on a single, centralized store, Google will let users buy books either from Google or multiple online retailers, such as independent bookstores, and add them to an online library tied to a Google account.
Users will be able to access purchased books on most devices with a Web browser, including computers, smartphones and tablets. By comparison, Amazon Kindle owners can purchase books only from an Amazon store, but they can also read them on multiple other devices that run Kindle software and can access free books from other sources. Apple’s iBookstore delivers iBooks to the iPad and to other devices running iOS 4.0 – namely, the iPhone and iPod touch.
Many details of Google's ebook project remain unknown, including who is onboard and what percentage of revenue they will share with the search engine giant. Other relevant information for publishers can be found at the "Getting started with Google Editions" page, including pricing conditions, the option to offer a discounted bundle of paper and electronic versions, and choose whether to apply Adobe-provided DRM controls on downloaded ebooks.