Google Secures U.S. Publisher Support For Online Bookstore

NEW YORK, May 9 (Kyodo) — U.S. online search giant Google Inc. has clinched the support of almost all publishers in the United States for its digital bookstore expected to be launched as early as the end of June, company officials told Kyodo News on Sunday.

The number of authors and publishers that have agreed to participate in Google's sales effort to distribute books online topped 25,000 as of Sunday, the officials added.

If books with expired copyright are included, Google will handle over 4 million books, including about 2 million handled by the publishers that have agreed to join what is set to be the world's largest virtual bookstore.

The entry of Google will likely accelerate the growth of the electronic book business, already pioneered by rivals like Inc. and Apple Inc., as publishers also seek new and expanded outlets to sell their products.

The company did not elaborate on details of its digital bookstore, called Google Editions, but one official emphasized that it will include almost all U.S. publishers.

Google Editions will allow users to easily buy books through its online search service and will likely involve a model where publishers decide the retail price.