After Google announced plans to launch Google Editions in 2009, the much-awaited but delayed buy anywhere read anywhere digital book distribution channel is to hit the market by the end of December.

WSJ reported that the launch is due in U.S. by the end of this month and internationally by the first quarter of 2011. Google Editions was due to be launched in the summer but was delayed as Google was ironing out legal and technical creases.

Google Editions is touted to be a new distribution model for digital books which could consolidate the fragmented e-book market.

Currently the market is served by players like Apple, Amazon and Barnes & Noble with their line-up of proprietary devices like iPad, Kindle and Nook. Amazon offers e-Books only through its book store and can be read on Kindle or any other device that runs Kindle software.

The e-Book market is currently accessed by users from multiple devices like iPhones, Smartphone, eReaders, Netbooks and PCs. However, porting the e-books to other devices requires downloading apps developed by them on devices like Android phones, BlackBerry, Windows PC to enable reading their e-books. Presently Apple's iBooks can be read only on iPad, iPhone and iPod only.

However, Google is targeting global internet users through Google Edition rather than just the device market. Hence its vision for Google Editions is encapsulated in the sentence Buy Anywhere, Read Anywhere.

Google Edition allows users to purchase a book via Google or through its retail partners. Consumers have the flexibility to pay through a Google account or through an online retailer. Once a Google Edition e-book is purchased it is stored in an online book shelf which can be accessed by users from their browser from any web-based device.

The business model is based on revenue-sharing between Google and publishers while the onus of processing the payment lies with Google. Also Google can avail discounts on books as it bundles titles with other complimentary products from retailers.

Also another business model that Google avails through Google Edition is that it can act as a technology partner for retailers who need e-commerce and merchandising support. It can act as a bridge for eReader device makers as well.  

Thirdly, Google acts as a technology partner with publishers through its Google Edition as it offers them the technology to create e-Books and leverage on the Google Books.

According to a report by CNET Google can currently only sell books for which it has negotiated distribution rights with publishers. However, Google's plan to create a digital library in unison with publishers and authors who have granted Google the right to display portions of out-of-print books covered by copyrights, still awaits approval from U.S. District Judge Denny Chin.  

However, the delay in launching Google Editions can be attributed to publishers who would still be musing over copyrights issues as it requires handing e-Book versions which would be stored by Google in the cloud. And as the legalities of the process work out there could still be further delays in Google Editions launch.