Google has announced Google Editions, an online database of DRM-free e-books that will not be tied to one website or e-reading device.

The new e-book store will launch sometime during the first half of 2010, and will have about 500,000 titles at launch. Under Google's payment scheme, publishers will receive about 63 percent of the gross sales, and Google will keep the remaining 37 percent.

Google also hopes to offer Editions titles through other online book retailers. In this scenario, online retailers would get 55 percent of revenues minus a small fee paid to Google, and publishers would get 45 percent.

If I ran an independent bookstore, I would be spending a lot of my time right now figuring out how to sell these books from my website. While it's true that no tiny bookstore is going to compete with Amazon, Google Editions would make it much easier for a small bookstore to say "We don't have that book physically in stock, but we do have the e-book, and you could buy that right now." It would at least partially alleviate some of the problems of running a brick-and-mortar bookstore.