Google Editions is expected to open up a new distribution channel for digital-book publishers and give Amazon and Apple a new competitor in the booming digital-book market. However, a key difference is Google's "buy anywhere, read anywhere" approach, which means customers, will purchase titles exclusively through a Web browser, instead of through an online store, as Amazon and Apple customers do. Customers will also be able to use any Internet-connected device--be it a personal computer, smartphone, or tablet computer--to access the books on Google's servers.
Amazon is the dominant player in the e-book field, claiming to command upward of 80 percent of the market. However, in an apparent effort to stave off defections to rival e-book sellers, Amazon recently announced plans to give newspaper and magazine publishers a greater share of the revenue it collects.
Google is no stranger to digital books; the Internet giant announced plans in December 2004 to scan, digitize, and make searchable the collections of five of the largest libraries in the world. However, the effort quickly became embroiled in lawsuits and negotiations over copyright issues.