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October 16, 2009

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Google Editions set to launch

GOOGLE Inc is launching a new service for booksellers next year called Google Editions, which will let readers buy books and read them anywhere on gadgets ranging from cell phones to possibly e-book devices.

It's the first foray into charging for books for the Mountain View, California-based company, which began its Google Books program in 2004.

Tom Turvey, head of Google Book Search's publisher partnership program, said the price per book would be set by their publishers and would have up to 600,000 books next year.

"It will be a browser-based access," Turvey said yesterday at the 61st Frankfurt Book Fair. "The way the e-book market will evolve is by accessing the book from anywhere, from an access point of view and also from a geographical point of view."

Google will collect 55 percent of the profits, Turvey said, giving a "vast majority" of that to retailers, and the rest will go to the publisher.

"Google Editions allows retail partners to sell their books, especially those who haven't invested in a digital platform," he said. "We expect the majority (of customers) will go to retail partners not to Google. We are a wholesaler, a book distributor."

He added that Google Editions will be the first time the company will try to monetize their books project. The transactions must be simple, he said.

Electronic books are becoming popular, led by devices like Inc's Kindle and rival Sony Corp's new Reader Pocket Edition.

Last year, United States e-book sales totaled US$113 million - up 68 percent from 2007 but still a fraction of the estimated US$24.3 billion spent on all books, according to the Association of American Publishers.

Sony's eBook Store includes more than 100,000 books, as well as a million free public-domain books available from Google Inc through its Google Books project. The Kindle Store has more than 330,000 titles.

The Kindle can only download books from Amazon's store, while Sony's Readers can display texts sold in the "epub" format - an open standard supported by the International Digital Publishing Forum.



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