Monday, December 06, 2010

Google eBooks Officially Launched

Google's long-awaited, long-promised ebook service begins rolling out today in the United States, unveiled in a blog post by product manager Abe Murray, leaving behind its pre-release moniker of Google Editions and now known simply as Google eBooks--one sign of how the world has changed since the web giant first started discussing selling "perpetual online access" to books in 2006. As previously indicated by the company, they expect to launch in other territories in early 2011. The new ebookstore is located at, but it is launching "throughout the day," so we are advised that not all visitors will necessarily see the new store right away. Similarly, the apps, web reader and reseller ebookstores--all described further below--will start to appear today, though the precise timing is unclear.

Google declares they have "the largest ebooks collection in the world with more than 3 million titles," including "hundreds of thousands of books for sale from publishers" as well as "millions" of public domain titles, with the latter provided for free. People familiar with the catalog estimate the copyrighted works at between 300,000 and 400,000 titles, though Google is not providing a specific number.

While the reviews will come later, in its scope, scale and ambition the program clearly puts Google in contention as a major ebooks player here in the US and shortly in major markets around the world. Google executive Tom Turvey says they are "hoping to capture the full breadth of the book business" with a catalog that incorporates trade books as well as STM, scholarly and professional works. The starting collection also reflects "international diversity," with "multiple languages represented." They are offering both reflowable EPUB files, as well image-based files (when provided by publishers) with a toggle that will show such books--including color titles--"as they exist in print." Turvey underscores, as publishing people will appreciate, that "it's actually meaningful to see how the book was intended to be laid out."

Copyright 2010 AmSAW

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