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December 6, 2010
Google's Bookstore Opens For Business
The Google eBooks bookstore opened for business today. It has approximately 3 million titles, readable on multiple devices, including the iPhone, iPad, Android, and Sony and Nook readers. Amazon's Kindle, obviously, is not included as a reader option. Heading to Google Books through the link under the "More" menu option of the Google main page now offers a choice to go to the bookstore or the standard Google books library.
A list of sale items appears with options for search additional titles by category. There isn't a straight up title or author search feature, which is annoying. I searched for one of my faculty members who is a prolific author and I received at list of titles that are related to her research, but not by her. Essay collections do not list a table of contents or a list of contributors. The sample pages that appear with the title, however, do show references where the faculty member was mentioned in the text. Books by her were not listed on the first page of results. A comparable search on Amazon was spot on with her books at the top of the list.
Clicking on an image in the Google bookstore brings up a page with reviews, if any, and limited bibliographic information. The reviews appear to come from Goodreads and possibly other sources. Pricing seems consistent with other online bookstores. Files are available in ePub and/or PDF format with publisher mandated DRM. No surprise there.
The Wall Street Journal report notes that Google may have titles unavailable in other stores. One of the participating publishers is Random House, which the article states hasn't signed on with Apple's iBookstore. Google also offers an affiliate program where other sites can sell Google eBook titles.
For all of its strengths, the weakest part of the site is search, which is ironic for a company with one of the most heavily used search engines. I'm not suggesting that Google turn their store into an online catalog (though that would be nice). Just that they make it easier to find specific titles through standard bibliographic fields. [MG]