Google (NSDQ: GOOG) plans to add e-book sales to its massive free e-book offering sometime this summer, the company told book industry insiders today. Chris Palma, Google’s manager for strategic-partner development, said consumers using Google’s book search will be able to buy digital versions of current and backlist books, according to the WSJ. Retailers, including indies, will be able to sell Google Editions from their own sites and get the “bulk” of the revenue; a previously reported 67/33 split.
Google’s free titles are offered by several e-reader makers — including those without commercial e-bookstores — as ways to make the device instantly worthwhile without paying extra for books. That includes Sony (NYSE: SNE) and Barnes & Noble (NYSE: BKS) — both of whom Google will be competing with for e-book sales along with Amazon (NSDQ: AMZN) and Apple (NSDQ: AAPL).
Update: Initial plans called for the e-bookstore to launch by the end of last year, then backed it out to June 2010. Palma’s comments suggest that is on track but, based on the WSJ report, he appears to have left some room by saying early summer. Google promises its books will be device agnostic.