Are books still relevant in an increasingly technology-based world? Many companies – namely Apple, Amazon, Barnes & Noble, and Borders – have responded with a resounding “yes”, attempting to help the paper-based world evolve into something a bit more convenient for the end user. Between the different file formats, and myriad of tablet devices to read them on, many of these ventures have turned out to be more confusing than driving to the local bookstore and asking an employee for help. As a result, Google thinks it is about time to dive into this market, hopefully to create a standard for the entire community, as well as promote device compatibility.
Google announced on their blog the creation of Google eBooks, a cloud-based network on which one can access and read millions of pieces of literature. All of this is centered around the Google eBookstore that contains a very similar UI to Apple’s iTunes. This new marketplace draws from the archives of Google’s independent partners: Powell’s, Alibris and the American Booksellers Association.
Google has had products similar to this, launching an effort in 2004 to digitize books and make them useful online. According to the Menlo Park, CA-based company, they have succeeded in this endeavor, formatting 15 million books from over 35,000 publishers that are available in over 400 languages. This feature will coexist side-by-side with Google’s online marketplace, allowing research form the archive to continue.
There was an initial concern by many that Google’s offering would be limited to certain devices, driving consumers to even more confusion. Google did address that issue by providing users with something very similar to Amazon and Barnes & Noble – a portal on the web to read, availability on Apple and Android devices, and allowing for the “open” use of their platform. It will be interesting to see whether publishers embrace the new format.
What do you think? Does Google’s eBookstore stack up to its top competitors? Will publishers embrace the new format? Will Google regulate industry standards by offering books in both .PDF and ePub formats? Let us know in the comments below.
[Via Google Blog]