Screen shot 2010-12-06 at 10.33.22 AM.pngWired is reporting on this today:

Google’s long awaited e-book-only bookstore, Google eBooks, puts the company in competition with Amazon, Apple and Borders for the burgeoning electronic book market. The move, limited at the start to U.S. customers only, also marks the first real retail venture for the search and online advertising behemoth, if you don’t count the Android app market.

“The fundamental idea is buy anywhere and read anywhere,” said James Crawford, an engineer for Google eBooks, who emphasized that the system makes it easy to read the same book on multiple devices. “The fundamental architecture is cloud-based, and you never wonder where to put your books.”

The company claims that it will have more books in its catalog than any other online bookstore — more than 3 million titles, but only about 200,000 of those are books licensed from publishers. About 2.8 million of the books are books no longer under copyright in the U.S. that Google has scanned from university libraries as part of its controversial Google Books project. Started in 2004, Google Books has scanned millions of books, mostly without permission from copyright holders, making them searchable online. …

Publishers can choose whether or not to lock down their books with DRM. Google also says it will have a strict privacy policy that forbids it from using your book buying habits to advertise to, or profile readers.

Google also seems cognizant that it is under scrutiny from government regulators. Currently, when books in print come up in Google and Google book search results, Google includes links to places to buy them online, including That behavior won’t change, the company said, but Google eBooks will now be one of the options.

You can find the Google ebookstore here.


  1. It appears that while some books can have a local copy downloaded others say “No download files included.” and are ‘cloud’ only.

    The Android app is OK I guess (after a couple min. use). Seems like it might be nicer if you could shop for books from the app instead of launching the browser. Page turns are not smooth at all (on a Galaxy S). Has day and night mode and three type sizes with two font options. The books remind me of the mobile versions of books from Kobo.

  2. “Publishers can choose whether or not to lock
    down their books with DRM.”

    And of what use is that, when there’s no easy way to find the DRM-free e-books? A keyword search at Google eBooks on drmfree and drm free brings up only a handful of titles. Google eBooks offers no other way to identify or locate DRM-free e-books.

    Unlike Kindle, Google’s ebookstore appears to have no subcategories; it’s very difficult to locate e-books in fiction subgenres. Unlike nearly all other ereader apps, the iPhone app for Google eBooks can’t be read in landscape mode. As far as I can tell, the only advantage that Google eBooks has over Kindle or other ebookstore competitors is that its e-books can be read on a Web browser, without special software – but the e-books appear in a layout that I’m not at all impressed with, which can be changed in only minor ways.

    Otherwise, it looks to me as though this is the same thing we’ve seen from other ebookstores in the past. If you compare the Google eBooks experience with the experience of reading one of Google Book’s DRM-free public domain ePub e-books, which can be read in any browser or app that will read ePub . . . well, there’s no comparison. It’s like being set free from jail.

    (Dusk, still waiting for the grand revolution when retailers and publishers will let us read e-books in any manner we want.)

  3. “It looks like you’re located outside of the United States. Although you’re welcome to read about Google eBooks, please note that Google eBooks are only available for sale to customers in the U.S. at this time.”

    Region restrictions strike again. Guess no one told them this was a bad idea.

    I do have to wonder though, with Google now entering the ebook market, will they start censoring search results for pirated titles that they sell? It certainly wouldn’t take much to use their ebook database as a reference and then ignore all searches that include the book titles and words such as “torrent”, “free”, “rapidshare” etc.

    Or will they be sending themselves DMCA takedown notices? 🙂

  4. Since I wrote the above, I’ve had a look at the “scanned pages” feature, whereby you can switch between the ePub and PDF versions of the same e-book – not only in the Web browser, but in the iPhone app version too. I’ll admit that’s a feature I find helpful, in terms of public domain books, because, while Google Books’s OCR translation is good, it’s not perfect.

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