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Google Opens Online Book Store

December 6, 2010

Google opened an online e-book store on Monday in its attempt to jump into a market dominated by Kindle-maker Amazon.

Google e-bookstore features the company’s massive library of digitized works online at books.google.com.

“We believe it will be the world’s largest e-books library,” said Google spokeswoman Jeannie Hornung. “Including the free books, there are more than three million.”

Google said it will expand its e-book store internationally next year.

The e-bookstore will be kept online in the Internet “cloud” and be available for reading from any Web-linked computer or using free applications on mobile gadgets like smartphones running Apple software or Google’s Android.

Hornung said that people will be able to “sideload” books equipped with anti-piracy software on to dedicated reading devices Sony and other firms make.

Amazon’s Kindle was not on the list of Google-friendly e-readers.

The Internet giant believes that most people will prefer to log in and read their books online from whichever gadget is most convenient at a given moment, in a manner similar to the way people check Web-based Gmail accounts.

“You will be able to store the books in a library in the cloud and use your Google account to access them from anywhere using the Internet,” Hornung said. “It will be a page-turning experience with flowing text.”

“I believe that years from now we will buy e-books from any bookstore, keep them all in a virtual bookshelf, and read them on any device,” said James Crawford, engineering director for Google Books. “This moment is the beginning of that vision.”

Powell’s online book shop Alibris and the American Booksellers Association are among the partners that will also sell Google digital books.

Hornung said Google e-bookstore prices will be “competitive” with the cheapest being free works already available in the firm’s online library.

Google will team with book-lovers’ social website Good Reads as part of an effort to build an “affiliate network” of online locales where people will be able to buy its e-books.

The company has 4,000 publisher partners, with revenue from sales split based on individually negotiated deals.

“The idea is that you can buy e-books from a retailer of your choice and read them on devices you already own,” Hornung said.

The Internet giant has digitized over 15 million books from over 100 countries and in over 400 languages since its Google Books project launched in 2004.

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