Google Gets Into the E-Book Game

Say hello to the Google eBookstore--unless you have a Kindle

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Google's e-book project is finally here. Called the Google eBookstore, it offers titles for download on a variety of devices, or for purchase and storage in the cloud. Google has partnered with a number of retailers, including a few independent bookstores, to make its downloads available. You can download Google's e-books on the Android, the iPhone, the Sony reader, and the Barnes & Noble Nook, but not, significantly, the Kindle, which is manufactured by the e-book juggernaut Amazon. Here's what tech-watchers are saying about the new kid on the e-book block.

  • Check Out These Features  The write-up at Mobiputing notes that "the first time you run the app you're greeted by a screen asking you for your Google account, followed by a message asking if you'd like to synchronize your last page read, bookmarks, and other data online. This way you can stop reading a book on one device and pick up where you left off on another." The post also notes that readers can "adjust the font, text size, line spacing, and justification" of the text on their screen.
  • A Mixed Blessing for Users, guesses Dan Moren at Macworld. "This is potentially a big positive: more vendors means more competition, and more competition encourages companies to constantly improve their products as well as to drive prices down. Of course, that comes with its own trade-offs," he continues. "In the real world, for example, you can buy your e-books from any number of vendors, and they all end up on the same bookshelf: in the digital world, it looks like you'll have to bounce back and forth between your Kindle, iBooks, and Google Books apps in order to get the whole story."
  • Great News for Indie Stores and Loyalists, says Paige Poe at IndieBound. "Indie bookstore customers no longer have to choose between reading digital and supporting their local bookstore."
  • Watch Your Back, Kindle, writes blogger Switch11 at Kindle Review. "Kindle Store and Amazon have a lot to be concerned about... The entire 'all ePub devices ganging up to take on the Kindle' movement is finally growing some teeth." The author notes that "Kindle Store isn't under a huge threat yet--'hundreds of thousands' is a very vague and hard to quantify number. However, it might soon be in serious trouble."
  • Could This Model Work Elsewhere? wonders Doug Aamoth at Techland.
What's more interesting, in my mind, is to look at how the framework for Google's online book store might be duplicated for Google's rumored music service that's supposed to come alive one of these days. With the book store, you buy a book and it's available 'from the cloud' using just about any device you're able to connect to your Google account. Take the same basic idea and swap out books for music files. That's how Google Music is supposed to work.
  • It'll Compete But Not Crush, predicts Simon Sage at IntoMobile. "I suspect through tighter integration with the native OS and services, the Google eBook store will quickly become a more palatable choice than Kindle for anyone buying e-books on an Android tablet, but a big part of the pitch is the matter of choice, so Google probably won't completely sideswipe Amazon or the other e-book stores."

This article is from the archive of our partner The Wire.