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Archives: Google eBooks - Features and Cons

Originally published in December 2010
Simon Nguyen

As demand for e-books and other digital contents continues to increase, companies are scrambling to get hold of this emerging market. Online booksellers like Amazon and Barnes & Noble have already been making digital contents available to consumers, through dedicated devices like the Kindle and Nook Color. Unfortunately, most publishers have not yet been able to expand their digital distribution beyond the e-readers. What if I want to read my purchased e-book but don’t have my Kindle with me? With the launch of its new digital distribution program called Google eBooks, tech giant Google seeks to settle this quandary once and for all.

The primary goal of Google eBooks is to give readers access to a vast library of contents anywhere, anytime, and on any platform. The new service hopes to make it possible that you can read e-books on your laptop, e-reader, or any device that has access to the Web. Purchased e-books will be stored online, and can be accessed by their owners at any time and on different platforms. The new service will be inherently tied with the existing Google Books. With Books, web users have been able to search for and download (free contents only) a variety of digital titles. Google eBooks is utilizing the same features, but will also allow users to purchase paid contents.

One of Google eBooks’ best features is the sheer number of books being offered. According to its website, Google plans to make available over 3 million books (free and paid) through its new service. Devices that will support Google eBooks include iPhone, iPad, iPod Touch, Android, Sony Reader, and Nook. Additionally, the company’s digital bookstore is expected to receive support from most U.S. publishers and booksellers. This is fantastic news for both the consumers as well as manufacturers of e-readers.

What is the biggest con of Google eBooks? It remains to be seen if the new service will receive support from all major e-reader manufacturers. For example, Amazon Kindle (which is one of the most popular e-book devices) is among key brands that have not yet announced support for the service. Also, it is still unclear as to how much support companies like Apple and Barnes & Noble will give to the new service since its success may pose a threat to their core business.

How will Google eBooks be received by the consumers? Much like Apple and Microsoft, Google is a powerful brand. The same people who are entrusting Google with their private search information are likely to give the new service at least a try. Consequently, Google eBooks is expected to receive a big boost initially. However, whether it can continue the momentum and grab a lion share of the e-book market is not a foregone conclusion. People who have been purchasing e-books through Amazon, Apple, or B&N are not likely to quickly abandon these services and flock to Google. The new service is certainly visionary, but only time will tell how successful it will be. 

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