The search monster on Monday took aim at Amazon and Apple with Google eBooks, a new content store that carries more than three million e-books. In a nutshell, Google eBooks is a web service that runs in your browser and on any connected device, including Android phones, iPhone, iPad, iPod touch, and more than 85 dedicated e-readers that support the Adobe eBook platform.
Although Google says the new store is "all about choice" because it promotes platform-agnostic reading of any book on any device, titles downloaded from the store cannot be read on the Kindle, the company says:
Currently, Google eBooks are not compatible with Amazon Kindle devices, though we are open to supporting them in the future.
Also, publishers can elicit not to allow downloading of ePub and PDF version to e-readers at all, through the means of the dreaded digital-rights management (DRM). Google for its part claims that most free public domain books can be downloaded as DRM-free ePubs or PDFs. For all other releases, Google will implement rights management as required by publishers, they said.
Because your e-books are stored in the cloud, they're all synced and you simply hit the Read button in the reader app to download the entire book for later reading. Your Google account stores all your e-books and saves your page positions, allowing you to continue reading on your mobile right where you left off on your desktop.
At launch, over three million free ebooks were on offer from the public domain, as well as "hundreds of thousands" paid titles added every day, including popular releases from the New York Times bestseller list.
The store is available at books.google.com/ebooks on your desktop or through Google's dedicated reader apps for other platforms.
Downloading and reading on iOS devices is supported via the Google Books app for iOS that didn't go live yet on the App Store at press time. To install the Android app, visit the Android Market on your phone and search for "Google Books."
The Google Books apps provides basic information about your books, they support free samples of books and books archive, and let you adjust text size, typeface, line space, and justification.
Bear in mind that Google eBooks offer both flowing text and scanned pages options, but some e-books may be provided only scanned, meaning you won't be able to adjust text size to the different screen sizes of your reading devices.
Google's entrance into this space is an encouraging sign that should raise competition. It could also free e-books from the clutches of preparatory platforms like the iPad and the Kindle. Although Amazon's Kindle Store and Apple's iBookstore carry e-books in the industry-standard ePub format, you cannot easily transfer purchased titles between the two platforms.
At this point, the Kindle Store is accessible on a wider array of devices because Amazon provides its free reader app for a number of desktop and mobile platforms, including iOS devices, making it easy for people to synchronize their purchases across different devices.