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Google Editions almost ready to make your browser an ebook reader

Google's ebook store, which isn't linked to a particular device or app, will be ready to take on Amazon and Apple's offerings by the end of the year.

Google Editions, the Internet overlord's upcoming ebook store, will be ready to launch by the end of the year. Google is aiming to take on the Amazon Kindle and Apple iBooks by offering ebooks in your browser, so you won't need an ebook reader or a specific app.

We expected Editions to drop last summer, but Google has struggled to get its technological and legal ducks in a row until now. "Because of the complexity of this project, we didn't want to come out with something that wasn't thorough," Google told the The Wall Street Journal.

We can see the beauty of a bookshop that lets you access your books anywhere and anytime, but we still don't know how Google is going to ensure that we can get our read on when we're offline. Without an ebook reader or an app that stores the book when you're not connected to the Web, you'd be stuck on the bus and planes without your crucial text-based entertainment. But we're looking forward to seeing the app that developers come up with to solve that problem. We're especially looking forward to seeing it on phones powered by Google's Android software.

Google could convince websites to link to its ebooks, in exchange for a cut of the book's price. With a huge advertising network already in place, Google's got its tentacles all over the Web. That could tempt independent publishers and websites to work with Editions, increasing the number of books available, and driving consumers into Google's ebook pen, like eager sheep.

Google's already stocked its ebook shelves with millions of books that are out of copyright -- you can read them in full via the Google Books site. It's also reported to have signed deals with major and independent book publishers, so it will have thousands of books available for sale when Editions launches.

Those lucky Americans will get the service first, but we should see it in the UK early next year. Prices for Google ebooks are expected to be similar to Amazon's.