At the Frankfurt Book Fair on Thursday, Google announced to the world that it would soon be rolling out an online store for electronic books, or e-books, which would work with any device with a Web browser.
Currently, the two main players in the e-book reader market are Amazon’s Kindle and Sony’s Reader. The former has a proprietary format that it requires, while Sony is pushing for a more open database of books. Other players, such as Asus and Apple, have previously been reported to be working on touchscreen e-readers.
Reuters reports that the Web search giant said it would launch Google Editions in the first half of 2010, initially offering about half a million e-books in partnership with publishers with whom it already cooperates, where they have digital rights.
Readers will be able to buy e-books either from Google directly or from other online stores such as Amazon.com or Barnesandnoble.com. Google will host the e-books and make them searchable.
Google has already come under some criticism and scrutiny for its project to scan and make all the books in the world freely available online.
OFFLINE ACCESS ENABLED
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.
Once a consumer pays for and accesses a book online, it would be cached into that browser’s memory and accessible again offline at any time – a mechanism which ReadWriteWeb thinks would probably rely on Google Gears.
"As long as you can get onto the library, you can access it," says Amanda Edmonds, Google's director of strategic partnerships.
Google also said that it is not looking at anything on the hardware side of the e-book market, stressing that e-readers are nowhere in its current or future plans.
Image credit: Future Perfect Publishing