Google Book Search (pictured) was just a hint of things to come...
The search giant has now announced it will be entering the eBook market in direct competition with current market leader Amazon. Unlike Amazon however it will be taking a vastly different approach.
First up there will be no dedicated eBook reader with Google instead choosing to develop software allowing books to be read online through web browsers on computers and mobile devices. The content would be cached for easy access offline. "We don't believe that having a silo or a proprietary system is the way that e-books will go," said Google strategic partnership director Tom Turvey.
Secondly Google will leave pricing options up to publishers and will only guard against prices it deems to be 'exorbitant'. By contrast Amazon enforces a $9.99 RRP in the US at present which vastly undercuts physical books but also comes at a cost with the company subsidising prices to try and build momentum in the format. So is such freedom madness from Google? Not really when you consider the immediate $360 saving in not having to purchase a Kindle 2 or $489 large screen Kindle DX.
Interestingly, Google has dabbled with the idea of selling eBooks in the past but Turvey emphasised: "This time we mean it".
No official partners have been announced as yet, but knowing Google the waiting time between announcement and roll-out is usually minimal. The service will remain completely separate from its book scanning project Google Books Library Project.