Google Editions to launch in Germany next year

Google's online service Google Editions enabling electronic books to be downloaded to mobile telephones and readers will have some half-a-million publications available in the first half of next year.

Google Editions to launch in Germany next year
Photo: DPA

A spokesman for Google Germany said that the project meant Google could now offer an alternative to the Kindle reader, and one that can be used by a wide range of devices.

Google said in June that it planned to begin selling electronic versions of new books online this year, posing a potential challenge to market leader Amazon.

Google executive Tom Turvey said at the Frankfurt Book Fair that publishers would determine the price of each book, and that Google would collect 55 percent of the profits, passing back most of it to retailers.

Publishers would receive the remainder.

Books bought from Google and its partners would be available to any device that has a web browser, from smart phones and the growing number of e-book readers to personal computers.

Electronic books are gaining quickly in popularity and are forecast to be a popular gift in this year’s Christmas shopping season.

Michael Dahan of the French group Bookeen, which showed its Cybook Opus model at the fair, said the editors expect e-book sales to account for 20 percent of the total within five years.

“The market for electronic books is clearly starting to explode,” he said.

According to the Association of American Publishers, e-book in the United States totalled $113 million last year, a leap of 68 percent from the previous year but still tiny compared with an estimated total of $24.3 billion spent on all books.

Google books will be able to be read by Kindle readers but will also support the “epub” open standard format backed by the International Digital Publishing Forum and which many publishers now use.

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Emergency numbers fail in several German states

Callers to the emergency numbers 110 and 112 weren’t able to reach operators Thursday morning in several German states.

The 112 emergency number on an ambulance.
The 112 emergency number on an ambulance. Photo: picture alliance/dpa | Boris Roessler

The emergency number 110 for police and 112 for fire crews failed around the country early Thursday morning, with callers unable to reach emergency operators for urgent assistance between about 4:30 am and 5:40 am local time.

The Office for Civil Protection and Disaster Aid is looking into these outages, which were reported in states including Lower Saxony, Baden-Württemberg, and  Brandenburg, and in major cities like Berlin, Cologne, Hamburg, and Frankfurt. Cologne was further affected by cuts to electricity, drinking water, and regular telephone services. Lower Saxony also saw disruptions to the internal phone networks of police and hospitals.

Emergency services are not reporting any more disturbances and people should be able to once again reach 110 and 112 around the country as normal.

Investigators are looking into the problem, but haven’t yet established a cause or any consequences that may have happened due to the outage. Provider Deutsche Telekom says they have ruled out the possibility of an attack by hackers.