The wait is finally over for Google’s e-bookstore, whose launch this week was a bit ahead of schedule according to the rumors that had been circulating. Google boasts that its United States store, which opened on Dec. 6th, has in excess of a half million titles. An international store is expected to launch in the first quarter of 2011.
Now before you exclaim that there are already three major e-bookstores – Amazon, Barnes & Noble and Apple – the big news here is that Google’s version of the e-book is Web based, and hence does not discriminate based on device. It doesn’t matter if you use an iPhone, iPad, Android Device, desktop, netbook or even devices such as the Nook or Sony Reader. Google is touting the fact that you can use their bookstore without the need to buy their device, which in fact, is non-existent.
I tested the store by purchasing a book from the web, as well as downloading it to the iPhone, iPad and Android application, and frankly, all of them performed fantastically. Your books are synced seamlessly via your Google account, which makes organization a breeze. The usual controls are present: text size, type style, and line spacing, but what I really enjoy is that Google went the extra mile to make the pages flip like a real book in iOS. Unfortunately, in all other applications the pages just “slide” right and left which is similar to how the Kindle app for iOS performs, with little to no animation.
The pricing in the Google e-bookstore is similar to Amazon and iBooks. I purchased the book 127 Hours for $11.99 using Google Checkout, and have enjoyed reading it on all my devices. The biggest benefit using Google in general, is that all services are integrated under one account and user name. I know where all my Google stuff resides: books, email, documents, chat, all in one place, which seems petty, but really streamlines my online life.
It will be interesting to see if the Google e-bookstore becomes a major player in the e-book market. What are your thoughts on the Google e-bookstore? Have you tried it out and read a book? What would you change about about the Google e-bookstore?