10/17/2009

Google to launch platform for selling books online

Filed under: — Aviran

Google Inc. is launching a new online service that will let readers buy electronic versions of books and read them on such gadgets as cell phones, laptops and possibly e-book devices.

The company said Google Editions marks its first effort to earn revenue from its Google Books scanning project, which attempts to make millions of printed books available online. Although the scanning program has faced complaints from authors and publishers over copyright, Google Editions will cover only books submitted and approved by the copyright holders when it launches next year.

It’s part of an ambitious plan that Google first publicly discussed several months ago at a book conference in New York.

By the time Google Editions makes its debut, the Internet search leader hopes to have an even larger selection of digital books available as part of a legal settlement with authors and publishers. The year-old settlement still requires U.S. court approval and is being revised to address the U.S. Justice Department’s worries that the arrangement could be abused to drive up the prices for electronic books.

The books bought through Google Editions will be accessible on any device that has a Web browser, including smart phones, netbooks and personal computers and laptops, putting Google in competition with Amazon.com Inc. and its Kindle e-book reader.

Consumers can buy directly from Google or from any number of online booksellers and other retail partners using the Google Editions platform. Google will actually host the e-books and make them searchable.

Wal-Mart and Amazon.com trade price cuts on books

Filed under: — Aviran

Taking a page from its original playbook, Wal-Mart Stores Inc. launched a full-fledged price war with Amazon.com Inc. and a nation of book retailers, lowering online prices on certain highly anticipated hardback titles to $9.

The volley of discounts, which began Thursday when the retailer listed prices for some upcoming hardcover releases such as Dean Koontz’ “Breathless” and Stephen King’s “Under the Dome” at $10, was answered with a similar price cut by Amazon, the largest online bookseller. Then the two competitors lowered the prices even further to $9.

The book discounts, the latest in a series of aggressive online maneuvers by the world’s largest retailer, could position the company to do to the online marketplace what Walmart stores did to local merchants decades ago.

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