Monday, December 6, 2010

Quick thoughts about Google's new eBookstore

The Google eBookstore is open for business, and I've downloaded the app to my iPad. Three quick observations:

• One of the best features of the Kindle on iPad is the ability to highlight book passages and take notes. As far as I can tell, that option doesn't exist at all in the new Google book-reading app.

• Neither does the ability to read a book in landscape mode -- which is kind of annoying, as that's my preferred way of book-reading on the iPad. However, as Macworld's Jason Snell points out, the Google reader does let you opt for reading the scanned pages of the original old books -- see the photo above. This does lend a certain charm to the otherwise often-sterile e-reading environment.

• Then again, the prices on the books in the Google store don't appear significantly different than other online bookstores, so I'm not sure what advantage Google possesses at the moment. The company is pitching the product as being device-agnostic -- you can read on your computer or a tablet or your phone or most e-reader devices. That's fine, except I can do that with Amazon and Barnes & Noble's e-reader offerings, too. It's one of the reasons I opted for an iPad over a Kindle, in fact. I would've expected Google to wow me out of the box. Instead, it seems a half-step behind the features I want in an e-bookstore. 

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