Google to start charging for online books
By Simon Aughton
Posted on 7 Sep 2007 at 11:13
Google is to start charging users for full access to online books. According to the New York Times, publishers will be able to set the price of their books and share the income with Google.
Google has declined to comment on the reports. If true, however, the move will provide the first real test of whether there really is a market for digital books.
Amazon certainly hopes so. The internet retail giant plans to launch an eBook reader in October. The Kindle is expected to cost between $400 and $500 and will wirelessly connect to an eBook store on the Amazon website.
The wireless connection could come in useful in places where people traditionally pick up a book: airports, railway stations and on holiday.
Sony recently introduced its own eBook reader. The size of a hardback book, the Sony Reader stores up to 80 books and lasts 7,500 pages on a singe charge. It even uses a screen technology designed to mimic paper.
According to the New York Times, it has sold well enough in the US for Sony to throw extra advertising money behind it. But for one publisher, the Amazon Kindle will be the true test.
"If these guys can't make it work, I see no hope," said the publisher, who asked not to be named having signed a non-disclosure agreement with Amazon.
Whether Google plans to allow purchased books to be downloaded to a portable device, or whether it expects the reader to sit in front of a PC, is not yet known. But while the computer remains the only way to access its Book Search service, the company has added a number of new features to make it easier to "collect, share, and discover new books".
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