Google launched an eBook store Monday with a total of 3 million available titles accessible from a variety of devices including Apple. The catalog offers a mixture of old classics like A Tale of Two Cities and Gulliver's Travels, as well as the latest best sellers from authors such as James Patterson. Hundreds of thousands of titles are available for sale.
The store also offers thousands of free titles. Google has scanned more than 15 million books from a variety of publishers and many libraries worldwide. They appear in about 100 languages. Many are considered "orphan works," where the copyright is uncertain or disputed. Google and several publishers are awaiting a legal decision on whether or not it can make these works available.
Along with the eBook store, Google released a range of eBook readers, allowing consumers to read and store book selections in the cloud from various devices. Aside from the Web reader, free apps for Android and Apple devices make it possible to shop and go. Most books allow consumers to change the font size, type and read mode-day or night. The books can be read on a computer, iPhone, iPad netbook, Barnes & Noble Nook, Sony eReaders -- and yes, even Sony TV, although not on a Kindle.
Sony TV allows consumers to access the books through Google eBookstore and read the titles on any of the television models including the 46-inch screen. A search feature in the book app allows readers to search on a word. The word in the context of the paragraph pops up in a preview mode down the left rail.
The books are available through Google eBookstore or from Google third-party booksellers Powell's, Alibris and participating members of the American Booksellers Association. The store allows consumers to search by subject, top sellers or keywords. Search on keywords or a proper name such as journalist, and books that cite the person's review or work appears in the query results. The search results also provide a list of related books and subjects.
In the long run, independent book publishers and those who self-publish will likely prevail and benefit from Google's store. Think eBay for book sellers and buyers.
Those who bought a Kindle might be a bit disappointed. The books from Google eBookstore are not available to read on Amazon's Kindle because the company supports a closed digital rights management platform.
Amazon's Kindle, Barnes & Noble's Nook, and Sony's Reader until now largely led the eBook reader space. In about two years, the eBook reader market will start to expand from the U.S. into the global market, according to ABI Research. The firm forecasts that more than 30 million readers will ship in 2013, almost double from 2012.