Google to launch e-book service

Google has announced plans to launch its own online e-book store in June.

Google Editions books will not be tied to a specific device, but can be accessed using any web-enabled device from a smart phone to a laptop.

Until now, consumers have been forced to choose between devices that were linked to a specific online shop such as Amazon’s Kindle Store or Apple’s iBookStore.

Editions users will be able to purchase titles directly from Google, or from other online retailers – and those stores will get to keep most of the cash, the company revealed in a New Yorker interview.

Google spokesman Gabriel Stickler was keen to point out the freedom Editions would offer: "It is a different approach to what most readers today have and the vision is to be able to access books in a device agnostic way."

The search giant has so far scanned over 12 million books, including out-of-print titles, giving users a much wider choice of reading matter than either Apple or Amazon.

As yet, there’s no word as yet on how much titles from Google Editions will cost.

The launch of Editions could prove particularly painful for Amazon, whose Kindle last year became the most successful gift ever sold through the site. The online bookseller reported that on Christmas day 2009 it sold more e-books than physical books.

Analyst Spencer Wang of Credit Suisse was already predicting a drop in Amazon’s market share in the run-up to the launch of Apple's iPad, stating: "We expect Amazon's share of e-books business to fall from 90 per cent currently to about 35 per cent over the next five years."

With Google now entering market, that level of decline may even come sooner.