Google Editions, the new e-book store from Google, will likely launch sometime this summer, Google reps announced today at an industry event called "The Book on Google: Is the Future of Publishing in the Cloud?" According to the Wall Street Journal, Google Editions could launch as soon as June, putting Google in a battle with Amazon, Barnes & Noble, and Apple, which recently unveiled its own e-books initiative for the iPad.
Unlike e-books from Amazon, which can be downloaded to Kindle format, Google Editions will be a browser based service. You'll be able to access cached version of your purchases offline, or through an app, but true to its roots, Google will keep your digital bookshelf stored in the cloud. This set-up has its perks. For one, consumers won't have to worry about pesky DRM issues – Google Editions will work with your iPad, your HTC Droid Incredible, or your laptop.
A major question mark here, of course, is the Google Books settlement, which is awaiting approval from a US court. As CNET's Tom Krazit notes, Google is currently "only authorized to sell books for which it has negotiated distribution rights with publishers and public-domain works." If the settlement is approved, Google would also be able to sell access to a gigantic swath of out-of-print books, drastically expanding the reach of Google Editions.
Last year, a company called On Demand Books partnered with Google to introduce the Espresso Book Machine – a device dubbed the "ATM for books." The Espresso Book Machine, which is stationed in book stores around the country, allows consumers to purchase printed and bound copies of the millions of public-domain titles currently available on Google Books.
"We believe in an open ecosystem where people can access and read books, whether at a computer, on their phone or electronic reader, or from their local library or bookshop," Google Product Manager Brandon Badger said at the time.