Just in time for the holidays, Google has opened it’s eBook store. The claim 3 million titles available in electronic format and these titles appear to be available for most eReaders, except for the Kindle, which at present cannot handle the particular PDF format the store uses. I have a Kindle and naturally, that means I cannot read books I might buy from the Google eBook store on that device, but I can read them using other applications on my iPhone or my computers.
I think this store will be an interesting addition to the eBook arena. Google has a tendency of building useful applications, in my opinion. (I love their mail and calendaring applications, to say nothing of Google Docs.) But Google has also had a reputation for playing a little fast and loose with digital rights, trying to digitize books that it didn’t necessarily have a right to do. In the material I’ve seen today, they have statements on copyrights, and what books are available versus what books aren’t.
But moreover, Google’s eBook store is, at present, in direct competition with Amazon because it doesn’t work with the Kindle while Amazon, obviously does. To me it reemphasizes the need for a universal eReader format and support for such a format on all devices.
Not all of the books available in the eBook store are available in formats that allow free-flowing of text the way they are on the Kindle. That is, some books have literally had their pages scanned in and in these cases, the font sizes can’t be adjusted and I think that will prove interesting as well. However, the store appears to provide much of the same functionality as other eBook stores with the ability to switch devices and find yourself where you last left off in the book you are reading. Your library is stored in the cloud so that it is accessible anywhere. It was not clear to me from my brief perusal this morning if this format allows for annotations, and if so, if the annotations are stored in the cloud. The books can be reviewed, just like on Amazon, and the reviews are available online.
It will be interesting to watch this evolve. Google has a way of doing innovative things with their applications and there are some interesting possibilities with their eBooks.