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Google scarfs up ebook tech firm

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Google has acquired eBook Technologies, presumably to beef up its eBookstore effort, which hasn't exactly set the world on fire since its launch last December 6.

"We are happy to welcome the eBook Technologies' team to Google," the mega-search engine company said in a statement. "Together, we hope to deliver richer reading experiences on tablets, electronic readers and other portable devices."

eBook Technologies describes itself as supplying "a family of intelligent reading devices," and licensing "technologies that enable automated publishing and control over content distribution." Its target markets include consumers, education, and training.

Exactly what those intelligent reading devices are couldn't be determined on Thursday – all sections of the eBook Technologies' website now contain only a brief statement announcing the acquisition – except, oddly enough, for the News section, which doesn't mention it.

eBook's statement resembles Google's: "eBook Technologies, Inc. is excited to announce that we have been acquired by Google. Working together with Google will further our commitment to providing a first-class reading experience on emerging tablets, e-readers and other portable devices."

Google's strategy has been to offer its Google eBooks on their own, without also offering a device upon which to read them, as does Amazon with its Kindle, for example.

"We designed Google eBooks to be open. Many devices are compatible with Google eBooks – everything from laptops to netbooks to tablets to smartphones to e-readers," Google said when it opened its eBookstore in December.

With the eBooks team now onboard, Google may be thinking of enhancing that "we provide the books, you provide the reader" strategy, and using eBooks' hardware and software expertise to create their own reader, or more likely to enhance and extend eBook software in its upcoming tablet-centric Android 3.0 release, Honeycomb, or one of its follow-ons.

Exactly what Google does with eBooks Technology's ebooks technology remains to be seen, but one thing is certain: the ebook market is growing by leaps and bound, not only for Steig Larsson junkies, but also for education – witness, for example, the iPad's encroachments into K through 12 and college classrooms.

There are billions of dollars to be made in ebooks, and Google most certainly wants its chunk. What's more, all those readers – including those in the profitable student demographic – are prime targets for Google's main product: ads. ®

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