Open for Business! Google’s New eBookstore Delights & Disappoints

Google today opened the latest chapter in the great story on the battle of the eBook stores.  Established eBook retailers like Amazon and Barnes & Noble are taking note, as Google’s salvo is no small warning shot.  With a massive library, multi-device support, and a series of interesting partnerships, the search giant has launched a full assault on the market.  The new Google eBookstore offers some hot new features, but also has some interesting drawbacks.

First, the game changers . . .

The new Google eBookstore has launched with an impressive catalog of over 3 million titles available for download.  Everyting from classics to modern best-sellers is housed in an easy to search and navigate site.  The interface is sleek and pleasing to the eye!  Purchases are stored on shareable “shelves” in Google’s cloud and are tied to your Google ID.  If you use the Google Web Reader from a PC, netbook, laptop or tablet to access your books, you will actually be reading in the cloud as well.  No matter how many times  you change devices, use the Web Reader and Google will always know exactly where you left off.  Free Web Reader apps are being released for iOS and Android devices as well.

For those wishing to use their own devices, Google’s eBooks are compatible with many of the popular brands available.  The Sony eReader and Barnes & Noble Nook, for example, can take advantage of the available PDF and EPUB formats.  These actually allow you to download the books and store them on your device directly.

Finally, Google’s eBookstore is launching with some rather impressive partnerships.  Indie booksellers  Powell’s, Alibris and participating members of the American Booksellers Association have signed on to sell Google eBooks in their own right.  Loyal customers of these stores are able to buy the eBooks on their sites and still store and access them from Google shelves.  There is hope for the independent bookseller yet!

Now the drawbacks . . .

The launch of the Google eBookstore has come with a few technical challenges for some and at least one glaring omission for others.  First, the omission . . .  Kindle users, your device is not yet supported.  Google is hoping to bring the most popular of the eReaders on board soon, but no timetable has been set.  The picture is certainly much rosier for users of other devices, like the B&N Nook or Sony eReader for example.  However, even there extra are needed.  Users of those devices cannot simply purchase and download Google eBooks on the fly via wi-fi or 3G.  They have to download and install the latest Adobe Editions software on a home computer first.  The eBooks must then be d0wnloaded through the Adobe software and “moved” to the device.  Though potentially easy enough, we suspect it will be a bit of an annoyance to many.  Will it be enough of an annoyance to keep them away from Google’s shop?  Time will tell.

A Big Day for Books

Whether you believe the pros outweigh the cons, one thing that is certain is that today is a big day for books and book lovers.  Google’s books initiatives, at times controversial, has been running for a number of years now and has made great headway in making books more accessible.  The 3 million titles in the eBookstore are but a fifth of what Google actually has digitized.  As more and more of its books become available to online and portable e-readers, Google is certain to become a major player in the eBook market.  Competition can be a very good thing!

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