Photo by Tsahi Levent-Levi on Flickr. Some rights reserved
Google is launching its long-expected web-based ebook offering, now renamed Google eBooks, in the US from today and says it aims to bring it to other countries next year.
The launch means that there are now three big players – Amazon, Apple and Google – in the ebook market, with the latter two having only just joined this year. Apple launched into the market with its iBooks offering for its iPad tablet in April.
Previously known as Google Editions, the new platform will be web-based but incorporate various technologies to prevent piracy.
Google says that it will "make it easier for writers to find new audiences for their books, and for readers to find, buy, and read books on most devices."
The company is launching its own "eBookstore" but buyers will also be able to buy the ebooks from independent sellers. Any purchased book is stored in Google's online library – which means that they will be able to read them even if their own device is lost.
The books can be read on laptops or netbooks, using Google's eBooks Web Reader. Users must have a Google account. The company is offering unlimited ebook storage: "Being able to access your books from anywhere means that it doesn't matter what device you're using," a spokesman said. The company is also developing free apps that will allow it to run on Android and Apple devices.
"For many books you can select which font, font size, day/night reading mode and line spacing suits you," Google noted.
Google Books, which scans book from libraries, was launched in 2004, as a part-time project developed by Larry Page, co-founder of Google. So far it has digitised more than 15m books from more than 35,000 publishers, and more than 40 libraries, and more than 100 countries in more than 400 languages. But it has also attracted lawsuits from the Authors' Guild, the Association of American Publishers and from UK and European publishers' representatives.