When two high-profile ebook entities – one the incumbent, one a new player – launch similar embedded ebook reading services on the same day, naturally you compare them.
Google Ebooks has roughly the same number of paid books at launch (5-700,000, although their numbers are sketchy) as Amazon’s Kindle titles, and probably a greater reach in terms of out-of-copyright titles, thanks to their extensive book scanning efforts.
Amazon has an enormous number of dedicated devices out there, as well as apps on most platforms. Google says, “We have everything with a browser.”
Amazon is the leader in the field of ebooks, and has been for years now. Google dominates search big-time, and many other aspects of the web.
So let’s run a rule over the two offerings – I’m doing it all on my iPad.
Kindle for web
I checked out the sample book on the Amazon promo page for Kindle for Web: Easily Amused. The book took maybe 8 seconds to load and paginate. The KFW look is very simple and easy on the eye, but you’d better like it, because you cant’t change it. It’s fast and responsive, after the initial pause and page turns are almost instantaneous here. There are no fanny page-flip animations, the text just gets replaced. I thought the turn arrows would annoy me, given that im used to page swiping, but I actually preferred them to the GE swipe (below). Page navigation needs a lot of work though, as the slider, there at the bottom in the pic is the only way to move around the book in larger increments. It wouldn’t slide on the iPad, you I was left trying to stab at a page number by trial and error. Also, where’s the Kindle dictionary? The sharing and embedding features are nice – Twitter, Facebook, email – and you can customize an embed in size and a script is displayed that will show the book that big in a web page.
Will allow first chapter previews to be embedded in any webpage. The quest for affiliate sales will push snippets of Amazon around the web.
Amazon is king of ebooks, for now. Just ahead on range, and very slightly ahead on price, as our comparison showed yesterday.
No word search.
Chapter links don’t work (on iPad) in table of contents.
Slider for page navigation is clunky. Won’t slide on iPad!
What they’ve done is slick, but there are some glaring omissions. No dictionary, no word lookup,
If we forgive Google the delay in going international (how long before the Kindle went global?), this is still a product at release, even though Google like to stick a “beta” on everything. Therefore I can’t understand why you can’t Google a word in a Google ebook! What-the? Neither a dictionary or standard search was obvious anywhere to me. You can search in the book for a word, and nice page snippets with the word highlighted will show up – a nice feature – especially when you can jump to easy appearance of the word by touching/clicking the excerpts. But no web/dictionary search??
Also, it took a while for me to get used to the page swipe, I can’t put my finger on it (ha!) but it’s a little odd somehow. Sort of short and more like a flick. Could this be an iPad-only thing? And you can’t tap on those turn arrows. They don’t work.
But the pagination is much better in GE, with the page slider always displaying your page, and very fluid. At the top left is the menu: your bookshelf, the table of contents, text size (pictured), search, info and help.
I love how you can choose flowing text or read the actual scanned book page (pictured). I discovered I prefer the old school scanned image, if that is such a thing. You can also choose 5 fonts, many sizes and 2 justifications.
The info button yaks you to ways to buy the book and, to their credit, Google list plenty of other vendors, some with prices.
Has millions of books scanned. You can choose to see the actual scanned text.
You get page numbers… that match the dead tree version of the book!
Great text adjustment options.
Great page nav slider, and word search.
Page swipe feels clunky and you can’t just tap/click.
No dictionary or web search!!!
Had a chance to put a nail in the coffin of geo-restrictions, if not the agency model. Didn’t.
GE is ahead of KFW for me, but it’s mind-boggling that neither has a dictionary or web search feature, particularly given who these companies are!
Amazon still has time for some tweaking too.