Google is close to launching an Australian version of its e-bookstore, the first time the digital company has expanded the service outside the United States.
The move raises speculation that a UK launch could be imminent. Australian technology website Smarthouse reports: "The company is believed to be planning near-simultaneous launches of the e-bookstore in Canada, the UK and Australia."
The report said Google began offering Australian publishers the ability to set selling prices and digital rights management conditions last month. Earlier this year, it also appointed an executive in Australia, Mark Tanner, who is responsible for launching the e-bookstore and getting publisher and retail partners signed up.
In a previous interview, Tanner said: "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."
Google UK was unavailable for comment but has previously said it wished to introduce Google E-Books to Europe this year.