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Google appears to be close to launching an Australian version of its eBookstore. The store, offering as many as three million electronic book titles for sale both online and through independent booksellers, is currently confined to the USA.

 Google appears to be close to launching an Australian version of its eBookstore. The store, offering as many as three million electronic book titles for sale both online and through independent booksellers, is currently confined to the USA.

The company is believed to be planning near-simultaneous launches of the eBookstore in Canada, the UK and Australia.

Google last month began offering publishers the ability to set selling prices and digital rights management (DRM) conditions for four countries including Australia. And last week the Australian subsidiary advertised a temp position for a “Google eBooks site merchandiser”.

“It looks to me like Google are hiring the staff for the Australian branch of the Google ebookstore,” said Nat Hoffelder in a weekend report on the Digital Reader Web site.

“I can’t get a statement from Google on when they plan to launch Down Under, but it should be clear now that they are going to,” he added.

In Sydney yesterday, spokesperson Henning Dorstewitz told CDN: “I can confirm that we plan to bring the eBookstore out to Australia. However, we don’t have a date to announce yet.”

Since early this year Google has reportedly had an executive, Mark Tanner, in the Pyrmont, Sydney, Googleplex, said to be charged with getting the Aussie eBookstore successfully launched here and publishers and retail partners signed up.

The plan appears to be for the retail stores to sell e-books from the Google list, either through their Web site or in the physical store. In most cases, Google would collect the money and pay a commission to the store.

In Australia, Tanner earlier this year told bookseller site Bookbee.net: “We’re in discussions with every major book retailer in Australia and in active discussions with a variety of other retail players. After all – we think it’s a pretty sweet offer for booksellers”.

While some booksellers have their doubts about the proposition, many are also mindful of what can happen to traditional print bookshops: this year has seen the demise of RedGroup, operator of the Borders and Angus & Robertson chains. chains.

Google eBooks was launched in the US in December with several million electronic titles. A note on the US Web site tells Australian – and other non-US – would-be readers: “The latest Google e-Books are not available for sale in your location yet. Google is working with publishers around the world to let you buy the latest ebooks from top authors.

“In the meantime, you can still browse millions of free and public domain Google eBooks and read them effortlessly across your devices.”

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