Google made another giant leap into a new industry on Monday by launching its highly-anticipated electronic bookstore, which allows users to purchase and read e-books from any device that is equipped with a modern Web browser, including smartphones, tablet devices and laptops.
Google Books has been set up as a flexible alternative to your traditional e-book store. Users can purchase e-books directly from Google, or from independent bookstores and other licensed retailers. After buying an e-book from any of these sources, consumers will be able to access their online library through their Google account and can read e-books from nearly any device. The search engine giant's initial catalog of e-books includes works from most of the major publishers, including Simon and Schuster, Penguin, HarperCollins, Hachette Book Group and Macmillan.
The new service is expected to take market share away from Barnes & Noble and Amazon, which have recently dominated the space with their respective e-readers, the Nook and the Kindle.
However, it seems that Amazon is not going down without a fight. A recent Computerworld report suggests that the online retailer is planning to unveil a Web-only version of its Kindle app as soon as Tuesday afternoon.
An Amazon spokeswoman told the news source via email that the new offering will "enable users to read full books in the browser and [enable] any Website to become a bookstore offering Kindle books."
If the report is accurate, the move by Amazon is a clear response to Google's recent launch and an indication that the e-book world may be moving toward a cloud-based model.
Amazon's new service would likely be an extension of the beta version of its Kindle for the Web application, which currently allows customers to sample the first chapter or two of a novel through a Web browser. The upcoming offering would most likely be set up in a similar fashion, except consumers could read entire works, not just samples.
The majority of works available through Google's e-bookstore are priced between $9.99 and $14.99, which is in line with other competing stores.
Beecher Tuttle is a TechZone360 contributor. He has extensive experience writing and editing for print publications and online news websites. He has specialized in a variety of industries, including health care technology, politics and education. To read more of his articles, please visit his columnist page.Edited by Tammy Wolf
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