Google eBooks

It’s been the Holy Grail of both the traditional book publishing industry and the makers of sexy new electronic gadgets: an electronic book standard combined with some way to read and store them. Over the past decade or so numerous attempts have been made, but not until Amazon’s Kindle has a device/format combo become a success. Most efforts come to naught.

By all reports the Kindle is handy, a pleasure to hold and gaze at, and easy to use. My only problem with the Kindle is that the books are supplied in a proprietary format, which means that if Amazon quit manufacturing the reader the books people had bought would be more-or-less worthless. The user also has to buy a Kindle reader — and it irks me that $150.00 must be spent for the reader in order to read a purchased book. People who have and use a Kindle seem to be pleased, though. Here’s a review at my father’s blog The Orlop:

An old man and his Kindle

Allow me to digress a bit — the reason will soon become apparent.

It was early August of 2004. I had been on the net for about nine fun-filled years, and I’d watched as the Google search engine rose to prominence. I used the service several times every day and from my conversations with other net users it seemed that everyone else was using it too. This was quite a unique phenomenon in the expanding net culture, I felt.

On a news site I read that Google was going to be having an Initial Public Offering, which would make it possible for any investor to buy publicly-traded shares of Google stock. How exciting! I had a little money saved and I thought buying into Google might have pleasing consequences for me down the road a few years.

The morning of the IPO arrived and I was late for work. I left without even logging on to the net — and it wasn’t until that evening that I realized that I had missed my chance.

Back to the present… I still like Google and the innovative projects the firm has unleashed upon the world, such as Google Maps, Google Earth, their image search, and of course my current e-mail platform, Gmail.

Now Google is entering the electronic book market, in direct competition with Amazon and its Kindle e-book reader. No special reader is required for their books — any computer with access to the web, Androids, iPads, iPhones, various proprietary readers — all of these can read Google’s e-books. Interestingly enough, just about the only device which can’t be used to read Google’s books is the Kindle. This wasn’t a hostile move on Google’s part — the Kindle only reads Kindle-ized books.

Google’s e-books will also be available in local brick-and-mortar bookstores, even the independent booksellers.

I think Google’s books will rapidly overtake Amazon’s Kindle books in sales volume.

You can read more about this Google project here:

Google Books




Filed under Books

6 responses to “Google eBooks

  1. Leslie

    Hi Larry, I also just discovered the google e-book, and have downloaded some free books and a couple under $10. So on my Ipad, I have the Ibook(Apple’s version), the Kindle and now the Google book apps. I love the variety! And I suspect prices will go down in some future price wars. Maybe.

  2. Joan


    Kindle won’t kindle much interest in me.
    It’s a plastic blank book and most downloads aren’t free.
    If you drop it and break it, you’re all up a tree.
    And it’s has to be charged with electricity.
    So a Kindle won’t do it for me.

    I’ll stick to traditional books, if you please,
    The kind that are made up from actual trees.
    You can underline, bookmark and highlight all these
    And if something weird happens your screen will not freeze.
    Now a Kindle might do that to me.

    You can level a desk or a chair with a book,
    Prop open a door, hide your favs in a nook,
    Use the old ones for kindling if you are a cook,
    And shred porn to keep momma from taking a look.
    This won’t work with a Kindle, you see.

    You can pile up your thick books to use for a ladder,
    Impress all your friends with the deep tomes that matter,
    And try to smoosh bugs and then watch them all scatter.
    Books whump when you drop them, no harsh awful clatter.
    Kindle comes with no replacement fee.

    I guess I’m a Luddite. Yeah, that is the key.
    I avoid things of any great complexity.
    But if someone would gift a nice Kindle to me
    I’d examine the object most carefully
    And then read that new gadget from A clear to Z.
    I could live with a Kindle that’s free.

  3. Leslie

    Joan, I so enjoyed that poem! I too love the wonderful feeling of curling up with a traditional book, as well of the other useful purposes they have as you so eloquently described.

  4. Joan

    Thank you Leslie. I just found out that my son who up graded his phone now has a cell phone, with a camera, with a screen on it..sort of like an Ipod. In addition he can download free books and read them on the screen. Of course ‘free’ is relative when you consider the upkeep on the phone itself…but as long as he has to have a cell phone he might as well get some fun out of it. He showed me an option to bookmark a page by clicking in the upper right hand corner and ‘turning down the page’. Cute!
    I get a kick out of what people ‘get’ out of my wry verse. My son read it and said ‘do you want a Kindle for Xmas?”. Uh…noooo. I would spill something on it our sit on it or drop it and break it fer sure. I can only do so much damage to a book and they are a lot less expensive. (except perhaps for college texts.)

  5. I liked your poem, too, Joan! Thanks for the contribution. Today I examined a Kindle for the first time, as my father was reading G.K. Chesterson on his while he ate lunch. I was impressed by the quality and “feel” of the device. The screen is as readable as a paper page of a book, and its battery usage is minimal, according to my father.

    I really don’t want one, though.

  6. Virginia

    This is an interesting topic to me in that I’m torn between the ease of downloading a new book in the airport and the enjoyment of walking through a bookstore. I applaud libraries moving to many electronic articles and books we couldn’t access otherwise, but still love walking the stacks, looking for something I hadn’t guessed would be there, and sitting in the aisles reading snippets of one book after another. The smell of binding materials, paper, and ink and the variety of textures containing knowledge and entertainment seems like a bonus.

    Joan, I think your terrific poem says it all.

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