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Google Editions: new rival for iPad, Kindle and nook

In the jungle of digital books, where Kindles, nooks and iPads battle for primacy, there will soon be a new rival: Google. The search engine giant provided an outline yesterday for Google Editions, a new e-book service that is not based on proprietary hardware that has driven the e-book strategy of Amazon, Apple and Barnes & Noble.

At a publishing conference in New York, the Wall Street Journal reported, a company exec said the service would be launched in June or July, and would allow users to read books via a web browser from a broad range of websites. Call it the ultimate playing field leveler.

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Google will also allow book retailers to sell Google Editions on their own sites, giving partners the bulk of the revenue, PCWorld noted. The company would have copies on its servers, and is still deciding whether it will follow the model where publishers set the retail price or whether Google sets the price.

I'm curious to see the pricing model. Apple, Amazon and others can make money from selling pricey e-readers, so they're not crippled by low prices on the e-books themselves. It will be interesting to see how a purely digitized sales model plays out. If publishers hold the reins, prices are likely to be higher than if Google has control. So the low prices that were common on Amazon -- but took a backwards step with the iPad -- may be headed lower again.

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