The Wall Street Journal has the story:

Google Inc. and Apple Inc. have stepped up their battle to win over publishers, as the two companies vie to become the dominant distributor of newspapers and magazines for tablet computers and other mobile devices. Google is trying to drum up publishers' support for a new Google-operated digital newsstand for users of devices that run its Android software. With the effort, it is chasing Apple, which already sells digital versions of many major magazines and newspapers through its iTunes store

The e-newsstand would include apps from media companies offering versions of their publications for smartphones or tablets running Android, say people familiar with the matter. Google hopes to launch it in part to provide a more consistent experience for consumers who want to read periodicals on Android devices, and to help publishers collect payment for their apps, these people say.

Fortune has an interesting little look at why Apple might have been failing at the magazine-publishing business on the iPad to date. They highlight a TechCrunch article that supposes Google might be willing to give up more user information to magazines for advertising purposes. It's probably true that whoever offers the most specific subscriber demographics and information to advertisers will win the digital newsstand race; frankly, I'm surprised Facebook isn't a player in this battle yet.