Google plans to start selling digital books this summer through a service called Google Editions, a company official says.
The service, launching in late June or July, would put the search-engine giant in competition with Amazon and Apple, with one difference: Google's service would work through a web browser and wouldn't be tied to a specific device.
Chris Palma, Google's manager for strategic-partner development, made the announcement during a publishing industry panel discussion in New York, says the Wall Street Journal.
Google said users would be able to buy digital copies of books they find through the Google Books search engine. The e-books would be accessible on any device that has a compatible web browser.
That sets Google Editions apart from Amazon and Apple. Amazon's e-book business is mostly tie to its Kindle device, although it does offer apps for devices such as the iPad for reading Kindle books.
Apple's e-book store works exclusively through the iBooks app for iPad and iPhone.
Because Google Editions works through a browser it can be used on a variety of devices: desktop computers, netbooks, smartphones — even the Kindle and iPad.
Book retailers, including small stores, would be able to sell Google Editions of their books on their websites, with Google sharing the revenue with its partners.
Google's e-book store plans appear to be separate from the company's effort to digitize out-of-print books into a searchable database. Authors and publishers have taken Google to court over distribution rights to their work.
The settlement of that case is before a U.S. district court.