Google to Start Selling Digital Books This Summer

Google plans to start selling digital books this summer through a new service called Google Editions, a Google official said at a book industry panel in New York, according to a report.

Google officials could not be reached to confirm the timetable announced at a panel discussion by Chris Palma , Google's strategic partner development manager, WSJ.com reported (Subscription required).

Analysts have long expected Google to enter the digital bookselling space, competing with Amazon.com Inc. and Apple Inc. Google wants to allow users to buy books from a broad range of sites using many different devices. Google Editions could launch as early as late June.

The company already provides a service, Google Book Search , that allows users to search and preview millions of books from libraries and publishers worldwide. With Google Editions, users could buy a digital copy of a book they discover through the search service, the report said. Also, Google will allow book retailers to sell Google Editions on their own sites, earning most of the revenue, although Palma didn't reveal details.

With the new service, Google would sell current and popular books. Google is also awaiting a decision by U.S. District Court Judge Denny Chin which could endorse a revised digital book settlement Google reached with authors and publishers to distribute millions of out-of-print books. Google explains that agreement on its Web site.

The U.S. Department of Justice opposed the Google settlement in February, saying it is at odds with U.S. copyright law, which give copyright owners control over "whether and how to exploit" their works. The DOJ said the settlement confers "possibly anticompetitive advantages on a single entity -- Google."

Matt Hamblen covers mobile and wireless, smartphones and other handhelds, and wireless networking for Computerworld . Follow Matt on Twitter at @matthamblen or subscribe to Matt's RSS feed . His e-mail address is mhamblen@computerworld.com .

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