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Google eBookstore Launched 88

Posted by Soulskill
from the moving-the-pieces-into-place dept.
angrytuna writes "The New York Times is running an article this morning about the launch of the Google ebook store. Independent bookstores such as Powell's, based in Portland, OR, have partnered with Google in this, selling the format directly in addition to their other ebook offerings. The ebooks appear to rely on Adobe Digital Editions for DRM; instructions are provided to transfer from the 'cloud' to a handheld device. iOS and Android have a dedicated app for accessing the store, and will download for offline immediately; other clients like the Nook and Sony eReader seem to be relying on the ADE platform to manage the transfer for offline reading." NPR tried it out on a few different devices and posted their experience.
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Google eBookstore Launched

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  • by hedwards (940851) on Monday December 06, 2010 @04:48PM (#34464534)
    I own a Nook, but I am a bit curious as to what this move means for Amazon. Up until now they've been the only ones using .mobi as a file format on their Kindle, and haven't added any support for epub at all, as far as I can tell.

    It would be nice to be able to buy ebooks at amazon that have DRM, but not be stuck using a Kindle. Not that I think DRM is a great thing.
    • No (Score:5, Informative)

      by eldavojohn (898314) * <[moc.liamg] [ta] [nhojovadle]> on Monday December 06, 2010 @04:50PM (#34464568) Journal
      According to the NPR article:

      Google is advertising the store as compatible with computers, obviously (for those who want to read that way), but also with iPads and iPhones, Android devices, and standalone e-readers including Sony and Nook devices as well as others that run Adobe Digital Editions. (But not your Kindle, there, buddy.)

      • by hedwards (940851)
        I know that, but what I'm wondering about is at what point does Amazon admit that their format lost and add support for epub to their product. And hopefully drop .mobi as a failed file format.
        • Re:No (Score:5, Insightful)

          by 93 Escort Wagon (326346) on Monday December 06, 2010 @05:01PM (#34464804)

          I know that, but what I'm wondering about is at what point does Amazon admit that their format lost and add support for epub to their product. And hopefully drop .mobi as a failed file format.

          When the Kindle stops dominating the market. Hard to define them as a "loser" otherwise.

        • by eldavojohn (898314) * <[moc.liamg] [ta] [nhojovadle]> on Monday December 06, 2010 @05:04PM (#34464844) Journal

          I know that, but what I'm wondering about is at what point does Amazon admit that their format lost and add support for epub to their product. And hopefully drop .mobi as a failed file format.

          Well, earlier this year, Amazon was enjoying 90% of the eBook market share [wsj.com]. It's projected to plummet over the next five years and I think the iPad gobbled up 22% of the eBook marketshare instantly [i4u.com]. Of course, I would bet that 22% was growth, not switch. Like, I think it's safe to say most people who bought iPads didn't sell/disable their Kindles immediately afterward and they probably had no eReader to begin with. I'm guessing that the Kindle still enjoys large numbers and has a comfortable lead still in market share [ecommercetimes.com].

          At what point does Amazon admit defeat in this? Somewhere way down the road. If (as the article above predicts) they're still at 35% of the marketshare five years from now, then I'd say that it won't be happening until after then.

          So aside from all that, you are dependent on Amazon just genuinely caring about the end user experience and giving up some lock-in that they've already established. *snicker*

          Personally I'm making due with my android phone and awaiting the color readers (Hanvon, etc) as I'm really interested in what this could do for the graphic novel/comic industry. For too long it's been dominated by large publishers.

          • by PCM2 (4486)

            Personally I'm making due with my android phone and awaiting the color readers (Hanvon, etc) as I'm really interested in what this could do for the graphic novel/comic industry. For too long it's been dominated by large publishers.

            Even the largest publishers in the U.S. comics industry cannot be called "large," unless you mean they are profitable because they are able to spin their characters into movie, TV, and merchandising tie-ins. But comics sales have been declining for at least 20 years, which has given plenty of small publishers opportunities to succeed in the same way as the Disney- or Warner-owned ones (on a relative scale). Look at Scott Pilgrim, Whiteout, 30 Days of Night, etc.

          • by hedwards (940851)
            I'm not dependent upon them for anything. I specifically went with a Nook over a Kindle because I wasn't interested in being held hostage like that. As it is, I can move my files to several other ebook readers.

            If you read that last link, Kindle owners aren't terribly satisfied and they only make up about a half of the market. Which means that only about a quarter of the current market is made up with satisfied Kindle owners. I do genuinely wonder if that would be the case if B&N and Sony actually bot
          • by Coren22 (1625475)

            The Nook color is out for $250. Did a Google search and it comes up as the first non sponsored ad. It doesn't have the battery life of the Nook I expect, but not a bad price for a 7" color Android tablet.
            This kind of makes me wish I hadn't bought the wifi nook already, it is much better for the cost.

            • This kind of makes me wish I hadn't bought the wifi nook already, it is much better for the cost.

              Take heart, your regular Nook gets 10 days sans Wifi while the color gets 8 hours [arstechnica.com]. So I wouldn't go kicking yourself if you have ever gone extended periods without recharging.

              And I should have specified color E-ink [nytimes.com] as it will give comparable periods of use with black and white. It might not be as great with colors like the color Nook's VividView technology but it will last many days. And it will probably be twice as expensive, that's why I'm waiting and watching. For reading, I'm guessing it's goi

            • by steveg (55825)

              It might be a pretty decent Android tablet, but it won't be as good as a book reader. Battery life aside, the screen won't be nearly as usable outside in the sun. The screen has to refresh, like every other LCD, and it has a backlight. Both of those are hard on the eyes if you read for extended periods.

              Some people like the ability to read in the dark. I prefer the ability to read in the light. In the summer, I spend a fair amount of time on the patio outside reading. My e-ink screens are great for tha

          • by BLKMGK (34057)

            I'm not locked in - I strip the DRM from every Kindle book I buy although that's few and far between since the moron publishers jacked prices to the Moon.

            what I want to know is can inept strip the DRM from these books? http://imaddicted.ca/ebooks/using-inept-to-strip-drm/ [imaddicted.ca]

          • Chanel handbags 2011 http://www.mywebbags.com/ [mywebbags.com]
        • by Per Wigren (5315)
          Not as long as they keep making a fortune from the Amazon Kindle store. But it's not that hard to read DRM-restricted .epub files on your Kindle actually. It's a quite inept solution but it works.
          • by joebok (457904)

            It is probably illegal to ask, but how?

            I am a long-time Kindle user so my (DRMed) library is all the .mobi based Amazon format. When I made that plunge, I thought (hoped) that the Amazon dominance would set the file format. Oh well. But the ubiquity of the Kindle reader app means I can currently read all of my content on every device I have (BB to iPad to Kindle to PC/Mac) - and they even keep in sync with each other - so I can use whichever device or pc is handy at the time.

            I have converted DRM-free ePu

            • by Anonymous Coward
              First you have to install Adobe Digital Editions [adobe.com] for Windows (WINE should work) or OSX and start it at least once. Then you find (Google) a Python script called "ineptkey" (there is a Windows version and a Mac version) and "ineptepub". Run ineptkey and it will create a file called adeptkey.der with the decryption key used by your Digital Editions installation. Add DRM:ed epub to your Digital Editions library, find the file it creates in your home directory (on OSX it's $HOME/Documents/Digital Editions/) and
    • by tlhIngan (30335)

      I own a Nook, but I am a bit curious as to what this move means for Amazon. Up until now they've been the only ones using .mobi as a file format on their Kindle, and haven't added any support for epub at all, as far as I can tell.

      It would be nice to be able to buy ebooks at amazon that have DRM, but not be stuck using a Kindle. Not that I think DRM is a great thing.

      If you own the nook Color, you could root it and install the Kindle for Android app... get the best of both ebook worlds.

      • by DuckFOO (736584)
        I've wondered what Amazon's reaction would be if B&N actually allowed the Kindle app to be installed and run on non-rooted Nook Colors.
    • by alen (225700)

      from what i can tell all the books are scanned in, including the new ones

      this is pretty bad since i like to read books in landscape mode on my iphone

      on the plus side they have a huge selection of project Gutenberg books

      • from what i can tell all the books are scanned in, including the new ones

        The ones that only have scanned page images are listed as "Better for larger screens". The ones without that notation also have reflowable text. (The scanned page images are PDF, the reflowable text is ePub, as I understand it.)

        (An interesting effect is that the reflowed text lists the original page number -- or range of page numbers -- from the scanned source material corresponding to the text on the screen.)

    • >> It would be nice to be able to buy ebooks at amazon that have DRM, but not be stuck using a Kindle. Not that I think DRM is a great thing.

      OR it would be nice to be able to buy ebooks from anywhere but not be stuck with one device. I certainly think DRM is completely useless. Amazon did pretty good with music market (mp3) because they were trying to catch up with apple, but with ebooks, they are not doing the same unfortunately.

    • by grking (965233)

      I'm not a DRM lovely either, but I did hear a fairly convincing argument for DRM encumbered ebooks from libraries. With the move to ebooks in the future and the eventual demise of paper books how are libraries to function? DRM provides a mechanism whereby libraries could electronically lend a document for a limited amount of time. I'm guessing it would be pretty hard to convince a publisher to agree to place their book in a library which simply gave away DRM free versions of their ebooks.

      Saying that, I'v

    • You can get your Kindle version at Pirate Bay. I'm serious about that. Fuck them if they don't want to sell you something. It's not like they're the only supplier, or even have the best price. And their moral grounding is suspicious.

  • by Dyinobal (1427207)
    Don't tell me the ebooks can only be opened with adobe pdf reader? If so I really don't think it will last, I hate adobes pdf reader, so slow and clunky.
    • Re:ugg (Score:4, Interesting)

      by hedwards (940851) on Monday December 06, 2010 @04:49PM (#34464562)
      The app is Adobe Editions, and it's a completely different app. Chances are good that it's already installed on the computer of most people with an ebook reader. I think the Kindle right now is the only one that doesn't support the format.
      • by fader (107759)
        The app is Adobe Editions, and it's a completely different app. Chances are good that it's already installed on the computer of most people with an ebook reader.

        ... unless they run Linux, which Adobe promised a DE client for but never delivered. Unfortunately for me, this means I won't be reading any Google books on my nook, which is a shame.
        • unless they run Linux, which Adobe promised a DE client for but never delivered.

          I've never had a reason to try it, but I've seen comments that DE works fine under WINE.

          • by fader (107759)
            It does work to an extent, but you can't do things like transfer an ebook to an ereader, rendering it basically useless for me. YMMV.
        • by khb (266593)

          Google books also are downloadable in EPUB; and the Google site has explicit instructions for how to work with a nook.

          What am I missing?

          • by khb (266593)

            Not that anyone is likely to be reading this far down with such a silly subject line, but for grins I bought a book from the new google store, "saved to device" told the download chooser to open it with /usr/bin/calibre and it "just worked" and then downloading it into a nook "just worked".

            Doesn't change the sins of DRM, etc. but google did a bang up job of integrating with existing hw.

            Nicely done.

    • Don't tell me the ebooks can only be opened with adobe pdf reader? If so I really don't think it will last, I hate adobes pdf reader, so slow and clunky.

      Then why do you use it when there is a selection of alternative PDF readers?

  • Say goodbye to Amazon! The writing is on the, er, eTablet...
    • Tables are good for their intended uses, but for long reading sessions, I want my eInk - and with a large screen, too. Today, only Kindle DX offers that for a reasonable price.

      Of course, this doesn't mean that you have to buy books from Amazon. Heck, you could just as well buy them from Google - Adobe DRM has been cracked a while ago and tools to strip it are available.

      • by Per Wigren (5315)
        For reading novels I think 6" (and even 5") screens are fine, especially with the new higher contrast Pearl screens that Sony PRS-350/650/950, Kindle 3 and Kindle DX Graphite use. Larger screens are only really needed when reading PDF:s and technical documents with illustrations.

        I would never read a novel on a backlighed screen like LCD/LED (read: a tablet) though. I'd rather print the thing and carry around a ring binder full of papers than read on an LCD. E-readers rule!
        • For reading novels I think 6" (and even 5") screens are fine, especially with the new higher contrast Pearl screens that Sony PRS-350/650/950, Kindle 3 and Kindle DX Graphite use. Larger screens are only really needed when reading PDF:s and technical documents with illustrations.

          I thought so too. I've had a PRS-505 for quite a while and enjoyed it a lot. Now, two months ago, I got a new (Graphite) Kindle DX - as you say, "for PDFs". But I don't have that many of those, and I do read a lot of fiction - and, to my surprise, found that I prefer the DX screen for that as well! Not for contrast - Sony has plenty for me - but for size. My vision is far from perfect, and on DX I can jack up the font size such that I can read it without eyeglasses at a comfortable distance with no strain,

          • by Per Wigren (5315)
            Yeah, I've been eagerly waiting for the Adam also, but I'm no longer sure it can replace an E-ink reader. On the few previews I've seen on Youtube, the backlightless mode of the Pixel Qi screen seem to be low contrast "black on silver" like a first generation Gameboy. Hopefully it looks better IRL.
  • sigh (Score:5, Informative)

    by khendron (225184) on Monday December 06, 2010 @04:49PM (#34464558) Homepage

    "It looks like you're located outside of the United States. Although you're welcome to read about Google eBooks, please note that Google eBooks are only available for sale to customers in the U.S. at this time."

    sigh.

    • Re:sigh (Score:4, Funny)

      by 93 Escort Wagon (326346) on Monday December 06, 2010 @05:03PM (#34464830)

      "It looks like you're located outside of the United States."

      Wow! Clippy, where the heck have you been?

    • Well, at least their free books are available to all.

      But don't worry. The edition of Grimm's Fairy Tales I'm looking at right now was published in 1903, and that's only 107 years ago. I'm sure that'll be removed from Public Domain within too long.

    • by trawg (308495)

      That was my experience too (in Australia).

      I pretty much expect to see that sort of thing now, so I bounced through a US web proxy so I could check it out - interestingly, I still got the same message. I checked and saw I was still logged into Google/Gmail, so logged out. Still got the same message. Deleted all my google.com cookies - still got the same message.

      I gave up at this point, but I thought it was interesting that they really go out of their way to enforce region restrictions!

  • by badger.foo (447981) <peter@bsdly.net> on Monday December 06, 2010 @04:56PM (#34464686) Homepage
    - such as No Starch press (http://nostarch.com [nostarch.com]), and quite possibly others.

    I find it's always worth mentioning that there are publishers out there who respect their customers enough to not do the DRM dance, and from the author's view (yes, I am one) the danger of people not reading your stuff is more scary than the danger of not getting paid for every last copy.

    Full disclosure: I have a book out on No Starch, The Book of PF, 2nd ed [nostarch.com].

    • pragmatic programmer and o'reilly ebooks are plain pdfs.
      • by Per Wigren (5315)
        So are the PDFs from Packt. Pragmatic Programmers also have DRM-free (but watermarked) ePub and mobi (for the Kindle) versions of almost all of their books. That kicks ass because PDF:s suck on small screens.
    • by killfixx (148785)

      ... and from the author's view (yes, I am one) the danger of people not reading your stuff is more scary than the danger of not getting paid for every last copy.

      Thank you for the laugh...

      That was an excellent point. :)

    • by DragonWriter (970822) on Monday December 06, 2010 @05:32PM (#34465358)

      True, some publishers do without DRM. And Google eBooks allows publishers who choose to do without DRM to deliver their ebooks without DRM.

      • by Chelloveck (14643)

        But it's not clear which books have DRM, nor is it clear which books have been locked by their publishers to be online-only (ie., no downloadable version). None of the books I looked at mentioned either item. I have an "unsupported device": a Nokia n810 with FBreader. I can read unencrypted epubs, but nothing with DRM. Unless I can see which those are they're not getting any business from me.

        I'm amazed that people are cool with buying device-locked books. People have pretty much laughed device-locked mus

        • But it's not clear which books have DRM, nor is it clear which books have been locked by their publishers to be online-only (ie., no downloadable version).

          The "no downloadable version" ones are, per the help, identified as such prior to purchase; the distinction between DRM and no DRM, on the other hand, does not seem to be identified anywhere. The latter point is one I'd like to see Google address -- and, in fact, while I think the reader is fairly nice and will use the library function for free books tha

    • by BLKMGK (34057)

      If you're an author then I strongly urge you to read this guy's blog -> http://jakonrath.blogspot.com/ [blogspot.com]

      It's not a genre I'm into but he's making some pretty good sales numbers with his books and is pretty freely telling people how he's doing it. If I were a publisher I'd be terrified :-)

    • by swillden (191260)

      - such as No Starch press (http://nostarch.com [nostarch.com]), and quite possibly others.

      Don't forget the biggest of the DRM-free ebook publishing houses: Baen [baen.com].

      They focus on a fairly narrow niche (Sci-fi, especially military sci-fi, with some fantasy), but within their niche they're a dominant dead-tree publisher and in general I think they were the first e-book publisher to really "get it". Everything they sell is available in multiple non-DRM'd formats, their prices are reasonable ($4-$6 for individual books, or they sell $15 bundles containing 5-6 books) and they even offer a Free Librar

  • by Trepidity (597) <.gro.hsikcah. .ta. .todhsals-muiriled.> on Monday December 06, 2010 @04:59PM (#34464766)

    In theory it seems that more competition should be good for prices, but not so far: everything I looked up is priced identically to the Kindle price.

    • Re: (Score:3, Informative)

      by Kypt (977978)

      In theory it seems that more competition should be good for prices, but not so far: everything I looked up is priced identically to the Kindle price.

      That's because a lot of books are under the "Agency Model" where if you want to sell the books you may not mess with the price at all. You can't do sales on the books, etc. Amazon, B&N, Sony, and now Google are powerless to move prices on these books. Great for competition huh?

      • Well if the Sherman Antitrust Act doesn't eventually make the rounds; perhaps some enterprising individual would put up plans for DIY Sherman tanks. Thus empowering authors and readers to really "take the fight"to the publishers ;)
      • by Anonymous Coward

        Not so much the agency model as the cartel model. :)

  • If I know Google (Score:2, Interesting)

    by Iamthecheese (1264298)
    Some Google employee will end up "accidentally" releasing a key that releases every Google book within 4 years. Shockingly enough comprehensive documentation about how to use it on various devices will also surface. This documentation will be of such quality that it had to have taken real work by a professional publishing staff to make it happen.
    • Wheres the google video key? Or did you forget that google video fucked over everyone that bought videos? Maybe they were just teaching them why DRM is bad!
  • by Anonymous Coward

    "Sharing
    You may not lend or co-own any of your Google eBooks purchases with another person."

    http://books.google.com/support/bin/answer.py?hl=en&answer=1062968

    • by Chyeld (713439)

      No mater what Google says, you can share your spouse with whomever you like, as long as the spouse is into that sort of thing...

    • "Sharing
      You may not lend or co-own any of your Google eBooks purchases with another person."

      Restricting co-ownership with a spouse is somewhat difficult; if you live in a community property state most property acquired during marriage is, by law and with only the specific exceptions existing in the law of the State, jointly owned. This includes intangible personal property, which seems to be what is at issue here.

      Consequently, in many cases it is legally impossible to own Google eBooks purchases without co-

  • iOS and Android have a dedicated app for accessing the store

    This is not really true; the iOS app is a reader, and it accesses your online bookshelf. For accessing the store (when you select the "Get eBooks" button) you are transferred to Safari.

  • When I purchase an ebook the most top criteria that I look for is freedom:

    1. Freedom to read it on any device.
    2. Freedom to read it using free software.
    3. Freedom to archive and read it offline.
    4. Freedom to copy/paste and print selected pages.

    Now Google eBooks gives me the first freedom to read it on most of the devices, and have some nifty features such as nice Web UI and synchronization through cloud. But it still doesn't meet my criteria 2 and 3. Now I don't mind too much about criteria 4, but there is

    • by Requia (1734466)

      I'm fine with the DRM, what I really want is the ability to sell my used books, to buy used books, and to lend my books out. DRM potentially enables that (by preventing copying but allowing transfer), but is instead being used to prevent it.

  • Lets summarize the deficits:

    No upload of your own already owned (non copy protected) ebooks into the cloud to use it as storage.
    No shop access outside of the USA...

    Nice try Google, execution, failed the exam.

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