Rather than let Apple and Amazon have all the fun, Google is throwing its hat in the bookstore ring. The search giant just launched Google E-books, boasting more than 3 million books (many free!) that you can easily download and read on almost any device or web browser.
This could make a big splash in local schools as there will be easier (and cheaper) access to the latest-edition textbooks, novels, and more than ever before.
Why It’s Different
The new Google E-bookstore is not just a place to download books. In fact, you don’t really download anything. Every book is stored in the cloud. This means your books are ready and waiting no matter how much memory you have on your computer. You can download the books for offline reading (when away from an Internet connection) as well.
How It Works
Instead of purchasing e-books through a single online store to read only on compatible software (i.e. books bought from the Kindle Store can only be read on Kindle apps), Google lets consumers buy books either from its store or any other online vendor that sells books in EPUB and PDF formats, and read them on any device with a web browser.
This allows independent booksellers with loyal customer bases to advertise and sell Google e-books via their own venues and take an (as of yet undisclosed) cut of the revenue, an opportunity previously denied to them. It also allows consumers to choose whom to purchase their books from on Google’s platform, just as consumers can choose between third-party sellers on Amazon. Google E-books is also launching with an affiliates program in place.
In addition to a Google Web Reader application, users will be able to read Google e-books on apps for Android, iPhone and iPad devices. Reading content will automatically sync across devices, so if you begin reading in the morning in the iPad, you’ll be able to pick up where you left off on your iPhone or Android device on the subway, and again on your office computer during your lunch break.
Nearly 4,000 publishers will be providing content through Google E-books at launch, including all of the major players: Random House, Macmillan, Simon & Schuster, Hachette, etc. Right now, you can access a few free books by clicking here.
This move by Google could push other online e-bookstores to have a more open model. It may lead to easier access to some of the harder-to-find books as well. This is largely thanks to the fact that Google Scholar has been scanning and importing millions of library books every year. Don’t be surprised if the Google E-bookstore suddenly lets you browse the Library of Congress, the New York Times bestseller list, and your local library’s shelves. What a world, eh?
This could have a major impact on school libraries as well as textbooks for students / teachers. If it makes them easier to access then more students and schools who could not otherwise afford the latest edition of a book may be able to get access like never before.
Only time will tell how things shake out. Will the Google E-bookstore go the way of Google Wave or will it be the next hit for Google like Android has been? How else do you think this new venture will help students? Weigh in down in the comments or by tweeting at @edudemic (or just say hello!)
A Look Inside
What Google Says About It
(from the Google Blog)
Today is the first page in a new chapter of our mission to improve access to the cultural and educational treasures we know as books. Google eBooks will be available in the U.S. from a new Google eBookstore. You can browse and search through the largest ebooks collection in the world with more than three million titles including hundreds of thousands for sale. Find the latest bestsellers like James Patterson’s Cross Fire and Jonathon Franzen’s Freedom, dig into popular reads like Laura Hillenbrand’s Unbroken and catch up on the classics like Great Expectations, A Tale of Two Cities and Gulliver’s Travels.
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. With the new Google eBooks Web Reader, you can buy, store and read Google eBooks in the cloud. That means you can access your ebooks like you would messages in Gmail or photos in Picasa—using a free, password-protected Google account with unlimited ebooks storage.
In addition to a full-featured web reader, free apps for Android and Apple devices will make it possible to shop and read on the go. For many books you can select which font, font size, day/night reading mode and line spacing suits you—and pick up on the page where you left off when switching devices.
You can discover and buy new ebooks from the Google eBookstore or get them from one of our independent bookseller partners: Powell’s, Alibris and participating members of the American Booksellers Association. You can choose where to buy your ebooks like you choose where to buy your print books, and keep them all on the same bookshelf regardless of where you got them.
When Google Books first launched in 2004, we set out to make the information stored in the world’s books accessible and useful online. Since then, we’ve digitized more than 15 million books from more than 35,000 publishers, more than 40 libraries, and more than 100 countries in more than 400 languages. This deep repository of knowledge and culture will continue to be searchable through Google Books search in the research section alongside the ebookstore.
Launching Google eBooks is an initial step toward giving you greater access to the vast variety of information and entertainment found in books. Our journey has just begun. We welcome your feedback as we read on to the next chapter. Posted by Abraham Murray, Product Manager, Google Books