Internet giant Google opened an online electronic bookstore on Monday in a heavyweight entry into a booming market long dominated by Kindle-maker Amazon.
Google eBookstore was being rolled out in the US featuring the Mountain View, California-based company’s massive library of digitized works online at books.google.com.
“We believe it will be the world’s largest e-books library,” Google spokeswoman Jeannie Hornung said. “Including the free books, there are more than 3 million.”
Hundreds of thousands of digital books from leading publishers such as Macmillan, Random House and Simon & Schuster will be for sale in the eBookstore, which Google said will expand internationally next year.
Google e-books will be kept online in the Internet “cloud” and be available for reading from any Web-linked computer or using free applications on gadgets such as Apple’s iPhone, iPad and iPod Touch or on smartphones running Google’s Android software.
Digital books sold through the eBookstore can be read on the Sony Reader, the “Nook” from Barnes & Noble and other dedicated e-readers, but not on the popular Kindle from Amazon.
Google believes that most people will prefer to log in and read their books online from whichever gadget is most convenient at a given moment, in a manner similar to the way people check Web-based Gmail accounts.
Google has 4,000 publisher partners, with revenue from sales split based on individually negotiated deals. It has digitized more than 15 million books from more than 100 countries and in more than 400 languages since its Google Books project launched in 2004.