Publishers welcome Google eBooks

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The Independent Online

UK publishers yesterday welcomed Google's move to take on Amazon and Apple with the launch of its eBook store.

Richard Mollet, the chief executive of the Publishers Association, said: "The ebook market is developing fast and with companies like Google coming in, there should be positive benefits for customers and publishers. Another player coming into the market should have a positive effect."

Google announced the launch of eBooks in the US on Monday night. The UK launch is expected imminently. Google eBooks, previously known as Google Editions, is the first "media in the cloud" provider. Customers can buy an ebook and read it on any device through Google's Web Reader. It can work on computers, Android and Apple devices and e-readers, although not Amazon's Kindle. It will offer more than three million titles, with "hundreds of thousands" available for sale.

Allen Weiner, an analyst at Gartner, said Google's move into digital publishing "is a big deal. On first look there is the significant impact on rivals". James McQuivey at Forrester Research said Google's service would not be able to compete against Amazon, but could take on other digital book stores, such as Barnes & Noble.

He added that the move would pave the way for ad-supported publishing, adding: "It will happen."

Mr McQuivey said that the changing economics of the market mean publishers will no longer force book buyers to shoulder the entire cost of a book but "instead can extract value from the reader".