Or whatever it’s called. I’m sure you’ve heard of it. Where Amazon, Barnes & Noble and Apple went, Google has now followed with their own eBook store.
I’m glad, actually. My only real complaint after having read a dozen or more eBooks is that sometimes the book I want isn’t available electronically at all. The price, the software, the whole experience, is very satisfactory otherwise. And perhaps a new player on the field means number of titles for me to choose from will increase.
A note for traditionalists. I know. You like real, honest-to-God books. The ones made of paper. You like holding them. You like the way they smell. You like folding the corners of pages or scribbling in the margins with pencils. And by God you aren’t going to give all that up for a bunch of beeping, heartless ones and zeroes. I get it. But you know what? Before eBooks? I myself read one or two of these paper things. And I feel the sentimentality as well. Here’s the thing, though. There are two kinds of books. There’s the kind you want to collect and keep on a shelf, and there’s the kind you just read and then store in a dusty cardboard box somewhere in your crawlspace, never to be looked at again until the day you put them on your front lawn and sell them two for a buck next to your old kitchen gadgets and some chipped Christmas mugs. No one wants to take away your right to a high quality book. But not everything you want to read is of the collectible variety. So get over it.
Back to it. Google is selling their new service as unique in that it stores your books in “the cloud,” allowing you to read them on a variety of different devices–even a web browser.
Yawn. In truth the web browser thing is neat, but I can already read my Kindle books on a wide variety of devices–including a Kindle. And it took exactly one day for Amazon to announce that they too will now allow Kindle books to be read via your favorite web browser. So, like I said: Yawn.
The only really unique thing about what Google is doing is that they’re allowing small booksellers to front-end their library–while taking a cut for themselves, naturally. Some people are saying this is a good thing, as these sellers are an integral part of the publishing industry and if books become largely electronic, this model gives them a place in it. Me, I’m undecided on that point. But it is the one truly interesting thing that Google is doing that nobody else is.
Incidentally, where are the college textbooks in eBook format? Anyone? Methinks there is a lot of vested interest in keeping it from happening. Otherwise wouldn’t they be all the rage by now?