Report: Google waltzing into e-book game

Starting in late June or July, Google Editions will be offering books the search engine giant is “clearly authorized to sell” and plans to offer the content across many platforms.

Unlike Apple, another recent entrant to the e-book milieu, Google will allow customers to use content in a more liberal way without the prerequisite of a proprietary device. Google said last year that they would offer works in the public domain in EPub format, but it is unclear how new releases would be handled by the company. Google will also allow booksellers and independent retailers to carry the books and turn a profit expected to be higher than the 4-8% commission offered by Amazon for books on their Kindle platform.

Publishers say the device-independent initiative and search engine driven traffic are appealing:

“This levels the retail playing field,” said Evan Schnittman, vice president of global business development for Oxford University Press. “And as a publisher, what I like is that I won’t have to think about audiences based on devices. This is an electronic product that consumers can get anywhere as long as they have a Google account.”

Separately, a ruling by U.S. District Court Judge Denny Chin is expected soon in Google’s fight to distribute “millions of out of print books,” splitting revenues with rights holders.

[WSJ]