By Peter Zschunke, Associated Press Writer
FRANKFURT (AP) — Google Inc. is launching a new online service that will let readers buy electronic versions of books and read them on such gadgets as cell phones, laptops and possibly e-book devices.
The company said Google Editions marks its first effort to earn revenue from its ambitious Google Books scanning project, which attempts to make millions of printed books available online. Although the scanning program has faced complaints from authors and publishers over copyright, Google Editions will cover only books submitted and approved by the copyright holders when it launches next year.
The books bought through Google Editions will be accessible on any device that has a Web browser, including smart phones, netbooks and personal computers and laptops, putting Google in competition with Amazon.com Inc. and its Kindle e-book reader.
Tom Turvey, head of Google Book Search's publisher partnership program, said Thursday the e-book market is evolving to allow access of books from anywhere and from any device.
Consumers can buy directly from Google or from any number of online booksellers and other retail partners using the Google Editions platform. Google will actually host the e-books and make them searchable.
"We expect the majority will go to retail partners not to Google," Turvey said at the 61st Frankfurt Book Fair. "We are a wholesaler, a book distributor."
Google will try to keep transactions simple, Turvey said, possibly by using its existing Google Checkout platform. Google will collect 55 percent of the revenue and turn a "vast majority" of that to the retailers. The rest will go to the book's publisher, who will set prices.
If the books are being sold directly to consumers by Google, it will take 37% and give publishers 63%.