Google to start selling digital books

By David Goldman, staff writer


NEW YORK (CNNMoney.com) -- Google will begin selling digital books through an online bookstore in the middle of the year, according to a company spokesman.

The launch, which was first reported in The New Yorker last month, means Google (GOOG, Fortune 500) will join a rapidly growing battle for the e-book market. Amazon.com's (AMZN, Fortune 500) Kindle store jumped into an early lead, but Barnes & Noble (BKS, Fortune 500) poses a challenge with its online store for its Nook e-reader, and Apple (AAPL, Fortune 500) recently launched the iBookstore for its wildly popular iPad.

google_books.03.jpg
Google will launch Google Editions, an online bookstore with free items from Google Books and for-pay items from publishers.

Google announced last month that it is partnering with Taiwan's HTC to develop a new tablet computer to rival the iPad, and having its own digital bookstore could help goose Google's tablet sales.

But with its new service, which is to be called Google Editions, Google has its sights set beyond just its own tablet.

Unlike some of its rivals, Google plans to allow its digital books to be read on any device. Amazon.com forces publishers to package books in a special, only-for-Kindle format, so users need to have a Kindle or a Kindle app on a competitor's device to read from their Amazon library. Apple has embraced the so-called Epub industry standard, but its books are locked so they can only be read on Apple devices or through its custom software.

Google Editions, on the other hand, would not let users download books at all; rather, they would only be available exclusively on a Web browser. That could keep licensing fees low, although The New Yorker story reported that Google will let publishers set prices for their books.

Google currently offers many public domain books for free through its Google Books service, and the company announced plans last year to offer those in the Epub standard for e-readers.

The company is currently in the middle of a court battle that would allow Google to distribute millions of out-of-print books. Google reached a settlement with authors and publishers, but some groups oppose parts of the agreement. To top of page

Frontline troops push for solar energy
The U.S. Marines are testing renewable energy technologies like solar to reduce costs and casualties associated with fossil fuels. Play
25 Best Places to find rich singles
Looking for Mr. or Ms. Moneybags? Hunt down the perfect mate in these wealthy cities, which are brimming with unattached professionals. More
Fun festivals: Twins to mustard to pirates!
You'll see double in Twinsburg, Ohio, and Ketchup lovers should beware in Middleton, WI. Here's some of the best and strangest town festivals. Play
Index Last Change % Change
Dow 17,959.44 154.64 0.87%
Nasdaq 4,781.42 16.04 0.34%
S&P 500 2,078.54 7.89 0.38%
Treasuries 2.16 -0.01 -0.64%
Data as of 8:02pm ET
Company Price Change % Change
Gilead Sciences Inc 92.90 -15.55 -14.34%
Bank of America Corp... 17.71 0.09 0.51%
Apple Inc 112.94 1.16 1.04%
General Electric Co 25.71 0.09 0.35%
Facebook Inc 81.45 1.57 1.97%
Data as of 4:00pm ET

Sections

Private equity titan CEO David Rubenstein drops some rhymes in a holiday message to investors. More

Sure you could spend more this holiday, but your better bet is to put the money you save in your 401(k). More

So, North Korea's Internet went down. What is it like anyway? There are PlayStations, XBoxes and a MacBook. More

Unilever sued Hampton Creek over its egg-free mayonnaise spread Just Mayo. But the company behind Best Foods and Hellman's mayonnaise has now dropped the lawsuit. More

Retired union workers could see their pensions cut under a controversial new law, but many say they're not sure how they'll make ends meet if big cuts go through. More

Most stock quote data provided by BATS. Market indices are shown in real time, except for the DJIA, which is delayed by two minutes. All times are ET. Disclaimer.

Morningstar: © 2014 Morningstar, Inc. All Rights Reserved.

Factset: FactSet Research Systems Inc. 2014. All rights reserved.

Chicago Mercantile Association: Certain market data is the property of Chicago Mercantile Exchange Inc. and its licensors. All rights reserved.

Dow Jones: The Dow Jones branded indices are proprietary to and are calculated, distributed and marketed by DJI Opco, a subsidiary of S&P Dow Jones Indices LLC and have been licensed for use to S&P Opco, LLC and CNN. Standard & Poor's and S&P are registered trademarks of Standard & Poor’s Financial Services LLC and Dow Jones is a registered trademark of Dow Jones Trademark Holdings LLC. All content of the Dow Jones branded indices © S&P Dow Jones Indices LLC 2014 and/or its affiliates.