Screen shot 2010-12-07 at 8.37.30 AM.pngEditor’s Note: TeleRead contributor Piotr Kowalczyk is writing from Poland. PB

Everybody is now writing an article using a random combination of words “Google”, “Amazon” and “killer”. I’ll touch something much more important for an e-book reader. I’ll write about “freedom” and “limitations”.

First press announcements about Google Editions, in October last year, were talking about a revolutionary product: the one which will free us from all the limitations other e-bookstores are putting. The limitations were: the access, the format, the device.

For 14 months I was living with a hope that one day Google comes up with a fix-it-all solution. However, from a point of view of a reader living outside USA, a list of limitations is longer.

I can’t access my bookshelf from a browser

Google, remember, you were saying, that a reader will have access from any device with a browser. My iPhone 4 has a browser and I can’t access either Google eBookstore site (it’s not mobilized) or my bookshelf (1. it’s not there in Books, 2. no eBookstore on a list of mobilized services).

On the iPad it works fine. The web reader is slim. Good job. Question: why didn’t you make the same thing for mobile phone browsers – as promised?

I can’t download an application

OK you decided to start in US, but you say you’ve got millions of free books and they’re available worldwide. I don’t understand why your mobile OS applications are available only in US.

I can’t find a book

Searching for a book is not easy. It’s strange because you, Google, are the search giant. Comparing to a “mother service”, Books, the e-bookstore’s search tool is crippled. There is no option to find a free title or to find a title by a date of publication. Where is the option to find a book by a file format?

Using the search tool is frustrating. Whatever I’m looking for, first publications on a list of results are the ones from a Library of Congress.

I can’t add my own books to a virtual bookshelf

Seriously, this was the feature I was mostly looking for: to have a chance to add my books from a disk to a could. Other services are making it very hard to do and I was expecting Google to change the game. Nothing like this happened.

Sure, it’s good to inform that books from Google can be downloaded to any e-reader with Adobe DRM, but it’s just one side of the story. The ultimate digital bookshelf will be the one you can take books from AND add to. Sorry Google, but your bookshelf is not ultimate yet.


  1. I wrote about some of the limitations in my blog yesterday. Nothing Google did will make me leave my Kindle software. I am particularly disappointed in the DRM. They are really no different than any other store and the reading experience isn’t really that great.

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