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Monday, December 06, 2010

Google enters eBook market

googleebookGoogle has today launched Google eBooks, a service that will lest users read your eBooks on any connected device by storing your library in the cloud. The service will start with around 3 million eBooks available for free while users in the USA will also be able to purchase additional titles including current best sellers.

By storing the eBooks in the cloud users will be able to read their books on the web using their computer, mobile phone, tablet and selected e-readers (not Kindle).  On the face of things I don’t see it offering too much that you can’t already get elsewhere, after all Amazon's Kindle allows users to read their books on multiple devices and offers a vast library of free eBooks too, plus there is the added bonus that you don't have to be live in the USA to be able to buy new titles to read on it too.

Assuming Google is to expand the service internationally, and surely it would be stupid not to, it could provide some welcome competition and a recognisable brand where non-Kindle e-reader users can shop.  It could even force Amazon to open up Kindle to alternative formats or make its eBooks available on e-readers other than its own Kindle.

I am a big fan cloud computing, every time I have to buy a new PC I find a software title or two that no longer works with the latest iteration of Windows, so knowing all I need is a browser means I don’t have to worry about expensive upgrades or alternative software just because my previous computer packed up. Books in the cloud however just doesn’t make sense for me.  I often end up reading in places where internet access isn’t always available such as during the commute to work or while on holiday where mobile internet access is prohibitively expensive.  At times like these nothing beats either a real book or a copy stored on you device of choice.  Yes I realise Google eBooks will offer this on some devices, but its nothing new.

Time will tell if Google can make a success out of eBooks, they’re not exactly re-inventing the wheel, but could provide some much needed competition to the market.

The official release from Google’s blog can be found here.

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