Google to sell e-books to challenge Amazon.com

June 2nd, 2009 - 1:30 pm ICT by IANS  

By Arun Kumar
Washington, June 2 (IANS) Seeking to find common ground with authors, who have complained about copyright violations through search services, Google plans later this year to begin distributing and selling e-books on behalf of its publishing partners.

“We’ve consistently maintained that we’re committed to helping our partners find more ways to make their books accessible and available for purchase,” Google spokesman Gabriel Stricker said Monday confirming the move first reported by the New York Times.

“By end of this year, we hope to give publisher partners an additional way to sell their books by allowing users to purchase access to partner programme books online,” he said in an e-mail to InformationWeek, a leading source for information technology news.

“We want to build and support a digital book ecosystem to allow our partner publishers to make their books available for purchase from any Web-enabled device.”

Google is anxious to find common ground with authors, who have complained about copyright violations in the past through services like Google Book Search.

Formerly known as Google Print, Google Book Search was introduced in 2004 and targeted by publishers and their lawyers the following year for digitising books without the permission of copyright holders.

A proposed settlement of that lawsuit is currently being reviewed by the courts and the US Department of Justice.

Google’s e-book sales service will be made available to participants in the Google Book Service Partner Programme, a marketing programme for promoting books through Google Book Search.

If Google succeeds in making peace with authors and publishers, it may find itself competing more directly against Amazon.com, the publication said.

Amazon gave up competing against Google Search in 2006 when it closed its A9 search engine, but Amazon Web Services, the company’s on-demand computing infrastructure service, remains a strong contender against Google App Engine.

With its Kindle e-book reading devices, Amazon has been building the infrastructure and market for electronic texts on portable devices, a transition in reading technology that’s been anticipated for a decade, but never fully realised.

Apple too will soon release its iPhone 3.0 operating system, which will bring e-book sales opportunities to the iPhone’s many e-book reading apps, InformationWeek said.

Apple is rumoured to be working on tablet computing device, a form factor ideal for reading e-books. Other players, like Sony, see a future in e-books, too.

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