You may have missed it among the Gingerbread and Nexus S frenzy, but Google also launched its eBookstore yesterday evening in the States, though we will have to wait a little bit longer here in the UK to get our digital hands on the eBooks.
We reported last week that Google Editions was due to launch before the end of the year across the pond, and it has, though under the new moniker of Google eBooks. Google has designed its eBooks to be open so that books bought in its eBookstore or in any of the the independent retailers signed up to sell the eBooks, can be read on a number of devices.
When you purchase an eBook from Google it will be stored in your own virtual library. You can then access the ebooks from your web browser, smartphone, tablet or e-book reader where ever you are and continue reading from the point you last finished. Free apps for Andoird and Apple (iPad, iPhone and iPod touch) devices will be available to download once you have Android 2.1 or iOS 3.0 or later
Some promised features didn't make the launch. The company held up support for copy-and-paste and printing, after too many publishers balked. Highlighting and annotation features will come later on as will text-to-speech capabilities that would allow Google's reader programs to read a book aloud. Initially it looks as if prices of books in the eBookstore will be similar to the Amazon Kindle prices though again Google will be hoping these will fall.
Google eBooks are stored in the cloud, so if you plan to read on the web using your computer, tablet, or on your phone, there is no file to download and you can read ebooks directly within the browser or application. When you download books to be read offline they are available in PDF and ePub formats. Many Google eBooks are protected by digital rights management (DRM) and some may prevent you from downloading them in the ePub or PDF formats.
“We offer the world's largest selection of ebooks – hundreds of thousands of new titles for purchase, in addition to nearly 3 million free ebooks. You can purchase Google eBooks directly from the Google eBookstore, or from a growing number of independent booksellers and retail partners.” Currently the retail partners are Alibris and Powell’s Books as well as participating members of the American Booksellers Association.
No official date for the availability of the eBookstore here in the UK has been finalized yet but we expect it to be in early 2011.