A big win for electronic publishing and a major move towards supporting eBooks and eReaders, Google today announced their Google eBookstore. Initially available only to US customers, the eBookstore is expected to expand internationally in the coming months. It offers 3 million titles including recent NY Times Bestseller listed books. Google is offering the service to Kindles, Nooks, iOS Devices and Android phones and tablets and is the first all-encompassing, cloud-based e-bookstore we’ve seen.
International eBook stores, including one for Canada are expected to launch within a few months. eBook services and devices traditionally launch in the US and begin appearing for an international audience once copyright and delivery issues with the publishers are sorted out. Google may also be using the the US launch as a trial period to perfect the cloud-delivery service as well as fine-tune the experience for each device it supports.
For most fiction and non-fiction titles, this is a definite coup although it would be interesting to see how the biggest player in the industry, Amazon.com, reacts to this news. Amazon has been known to lock-in exclusivity of the books it publishes.
Below is Google’s announcement taken from their blog:
Today is the first page in a new chapter of our mission to improve access to the cultural and educational treasures we know as books. Google eBooks will be available in the U.S. from a new Google eBookstore. You can browse and search through the largest ebooks collection in the world with more than three million titles including hundreds of thousands for sale. Find the latest bestsellers like James Patterson’s Cross Fire and Jonathan Franzen’s Freedom, dig into popular reads like Laura Hillenbrand’s Unbroken and catch up on the classics like Great Expectations, A Tale of Two Cities and Gulliver’s Travels.
We designed Google eBooks to be open. Many devices are compatible with Google eBooks—everything from laptops to netbooks to tablets to smartphones to e-readers. With the newGoogle eBooks Web Reader, you can buy, store and read Google eBooks in the cloud. That means you can access your ebooks like you would messages in Gmail or photos in Picasa—using a free, password-protected Google account with unlimited ebooks storage.
In addition to a full-featured web reader, free apps for Android and Apple devices will make it possible to shop and read on the go. For many books you can select which font, font size, day/night reading mode and line spacing suits you—and pick up on the page where you left off when switching devices.
You can discover and buy new ebooks from the Google eBookstore or get them from one of our independent bookseller partners: Powell’s, Alibris and participating members of theAmerican Booksellers Association. You can choose where to buy your ebooks like you choose where to buy your print books, and keep them all on the same bookshelf regardless of where you got them.
When Google Books first launched in 2004, we set out to make the information stored in the world’s books accessible and useful online. Since then, we’ve digitized more than 15 million books from more than 35,000 publishers, more than 40 libraries, and more than 100 countries in more than 400 languages. This deep repository of knowledge and culture will continue to be searchable through Google Books search in the research section alongside the ebookstore.
We are hoping that this opens the door to a similar revolution in educational publishing which would push textbooks towards e-publishing. It is a well known reality that textbooks are often unreasonably priced forcing students to seek out older editions or even rentals just to be able to keep up. Yet, most textbooks offer only incremental revisions from edition to edition. This is something that can be easily handled by the eBook model as revisions would be mere download away for most students armed with eBook readers or tablets.