Someday soon–later this summer perhaps–there will be a major new development in the evolution of e-books: the launch of Google (GOOG) Editions. The initial success of Amazon’s (AMZN) Kindle, Apple’s (AAPL) iPad, and the e-book runners-up like Barnes & Noble’s (BKS) Nook and the Sony (SNE) Reader has established that consumers are reading books on screens in ever-greater numbers and with considerable satisfaction. While the revenues are still a relatively small part of the overall book market–somewhat less than 10 percent–the figure is growing very fast. The prediction that e-books will be 20 to 25 percent of the total in the next ten years now seems reasonable.
So what does Google Editions add to the mix? The answer, based on conversations with Google representatives and booksellers–particularly among the independent stores–is that Google will be adding millions of digital titles for sale on any device with Internet access: smart phones, tablets, netbooks, desktops, and every digital reading device except Kindle, which for now at least continues to operate on a closed proprietary system. But Google and Amazon are continuing discussions, so that may yet change.