Google has rebranded Google Editions and launched its web-based Google eBooks service in the US, making some three million books available as digital editions across mutile platforms and readers at a stroke.
The company describes Google eBooks as a platform for selling ebooks, making it easier for writers to find new audiences for their books, and for readers to find, buy, and read books on most devices.
The new platform could also of course be used to present comics and graphic novels.
Google is working to bring the product to other countries in 2011, after it reached what it described as a groundbreaking agreement with US authors and publishers. The project means
Amazon, Apple and Google are now the biggest players in the ebook market. (Apple launched its iBooks offering for iPad back in April).
With Google eBooks, readers can discover and buy books from the Google eBookstore or get them from one of our independent bookseller partners. Whether you buy a Google eBook from Google or from an online bookseller, they are all stored in your online library.
The platform enables readers to read books on devices from laptops to netbooks to tablets to smartphones to e-readers. Using the new Google eBooks Web Reader, you can buy, store and read Google eBooks in the cloud, using a free, password-protected Google account with unlimited ebooks storage. Being able to access your books from anywhere means that it doesn't matter what device you're using.
Google eBooks will also work on Android and Apple devices through free apps (but not, as yet, Amazon's Kindle, since Google's service uses Adobe's Digital Rights Management software which the Kindle doesn't). For many books you can select which font, font size, day/night reading mode and line spacing suits you.
The Washington Post reports the US launch has not been without its hiccups, pondering Google's lack of success at straight-to-consumer products (citing the failure of Google's online video store back in 2006) and reporting a problem with the quality of some public domain offerings. But it's early days for the platform and while some have derided a web-based approach to book reading, anything that makes downloading books to read simpler for the average computer user, with as few 'steps' to achieving that as possible, should do well.
Google Books was first launched in 2004, as a part-time project developed by Larry Page, co-founder of Google, and set out to make the information stored in the world's books accessible and useful online. Since then, the company has digitized more than 15 million books from more than 35,000 publishers, and more than 40 libraries, and more than 100 countries in more than 400 languages.
• Google eBooks Web Reader
• This Associated Press video details the project: