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Google Takes On Amazon With Own E-Book Store

kdawson posted more than 4 years ago | from the real-page-turner dept.

Books 152

CWmike writes "Google announced on Thursday that next year it's launching an online e-book store called Google Editions where users will be able to buy digital books that can be read on a range of gadgets, including e-book readers, laptops, and cell phones. Press reports out of Germany, where it was announced, note that Google plans to offer up half a million e-books from the get-go. Dan Olds, an analyst with The Gabriel Consulting Group, said, 'The market leader, Amazon, built its position with a closed device, Kindle, which is limited to reading and buying eBooks. It will be interesting to see how well it stacks up against Google's strategy of delivering e-book capabilities via the Web to any device that can connect to the Internet. This gives Google a vastly larger addressable market than what Amazon has built up with Kindle so far.'" The price per book will be set by the publishers, Google says. Google willl turn over 45% of what they take in to the publisher and "the vast majority" of the rest to retailers.

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152 comments

How small is it?!?! (-1, Offtopic)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#29769343)

Rob "CmdrTaco" Malda has a penis so tiny that it takes an electron microscope and a pair of nano tweezers to jack himself off.

The format is all that matters (5, Insightful)

DrivingBear (931124) | more than 4 years ago | (#29769353)

As long as the books they sell are readable on any device they win in my book.

The device is all that matters (1)

OrangeTide (124937) | more than 4 years ago | (#29769397)

As long as the books are on a device that has a good reading experience, that is what is important to me. so basically, can I load the books on a Kindle. Anything else is totally pointless, I'm not going to read a tablet or laptop screen for hours. I obviously don't want to read a novel on a cellphone either.

Re:The device is all that matters (2, Insightful)

Abreu (173023) | more than 4 years ago | (#29769459)

I have been reading novels in a PalmOS device for years, it's no biggie

In fact, having seen a current generation epaper device, I can say that, for me, a standard color LCD is still the superior reading device

Re:The device is all that matters (1, Interesting)

OrangeTide (124937) | more than 4 years ago | (#29769563)

As have I, it sucks compared to a 6" EPD. Backlight displays are a tremendous strain on the eyes compared to purely reflective displays. And the points on an E Ink device are distributed more like print than the matrix of an LCD, so I never get a moire pattern after image on my eyes after a long reading session. (yes, I doubt you believe any of this.)

Companies are making EPD based readers and accepting the tremendous limitations of the techonlogy not because it's a gimmick but because LCDs have terrible battery life and are just painful to read. My mind boggles that you think a color LCD is superior, the color elements are pretty easy to see on a typical handheld sized LCD and with fields of white can be extremely annoying to look at. If anything, the high resolution the monochrome LCDs are the next best choice, like on a Japanese electronic dictionary. The pixels are closer together and you don't have weird repeating stripes of red, blue and green.

Maybe I'm just biased, having made ebook readers for years now.

Re:The device is all that matters (4, Interesting)

WaywardGeek (1480513) | more than 4 years ago | (#29770123)

It turns out that starting probably next year some time, you get the best of both worlds [pixelqi.com] . We'll have netbooks and net tablets that pack displays equal to e-paper in sunlight, and with brilliant color.

Personally, I translate e-books to high-speed audio (about 500 wpm), rather than reading, as my central vision is failing. I can't tell you how much I enjoy having books read to me at that speed with the old IBM ViaVoice TTS. The problem with Kindle and friends is they make it too hard or impossible for me to enjoy their books in the form I want. I have high hopes that netbooks with the new displays coupled with Googles e-book service will change the world.

Re:The device is all that matters (1)

Abreu (173023) | more than 4 years ago | (#29770199)

That pixelqi thing sounds be very nice. I'll keep an eye on it

Re:The device is all that matters (1)

WaywardGeek (1480513) | more than 4 years ago | (#29770281)

Here's a nice video of it [youtube.com] , courtesy of some slashdoter who I forget.

Re:The device is all that matters (1)

jfengel (409917) | more than 4 years ago | (#29771499)

Personally, I translate e-books to high-speed audio (about 500 wpm), rather than reading,

That's interesting. I'd like to hear more about that.

I do some reading for the blind, and I wonder if I'm going to be replaced with a machine some day. I wouldn't have expected it to be soon. (This is volunteer work, and I wouldn't mind being replaced to free up time for something else.)

I'm sure the machine can't quite match my facility for interpretation, but I couldn't match 500 wpm. Is it good enough for the purposes you put it to?

Re:The device is all that matters (1)

Abreu (173023) | more than 4 years ago | (#29770169)

Problem with EInk displays (at least current generation ones) is that contrast is very bad.

Even though the purely reflective screen is a good step, the fact that you are reading grey text on light-grey background is a killer for the eyes

Re:The device is all that matters (1)

ajs (35943) | more than 4 years ago | (#29770823)

LCDs have terrible battery life

True, that.

and are just painful to read.

Now you've made a leap, there.

My mind boggles that you think a color LCD is superior, the color elements are pretty easy to see on a typical handheld sized LCD

I'm sure you're going to explain why I care. I grew up on the Tandy Color Computer with pixels the size of your head. If I wanted photo-realism, I'd go for a walk. When I want to read, being able to see pixels isn't a concern.

Maybe I'm just biased, having made ebook readers for years now.

Aha! Now, it all becomes clear. I was wondering how someone became so hyper-senstitive to every feature of their reading medium, and then you explained it all. Yes, I have known people who were in the book printing world who couldn't read books that were printed on "low quality" paper, and preferred books that were printed with those ragged torn-looking pages, so I understand where you're coming from. However, it's important for you to realize that you've damaged your experience by being too close to the problem. It's not that everyone else is content to suffer, it's that you've become so aware of the medium that you can't escape it long enough to enjoy what you're reading.

Re:The device is all that matters (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#29769723)

Clearly they should have asked you before wasting all that time and money developing e-paper.

Re:The device is all that matters (1)

fooslacker (961470) | more than 4 years ago | (#29770995)

I disagree. I read books on my Kindle and my iPhone when I'm out and about and it's a 10x better on the Kindle. I couldn't read only on my iPhone. I'd rather just own the book if that were the case but the Kindle is a great reading experience. The iPhone is an acceptable short-term solution when I'm sitting and waiting on an appointment.

Re:The device is all that matters (1)

ajs (35943) | more than 4 years ago | (#29770597)

I obviously don't want to read a novel on a cellphone either.

I'm not sure why that's obvious. My cell phone is frequently used to real books from either Kindle (iPhone app) or Google (Google Books free version, which is available today). I find it quite handy for reading while commuting (I walk or take the bus) and before bed. It's not an ideal size, but I can read with it just fine, and I find the ease of carrying around the phone beats out the form-factor in terms of overall experience.

Re:The format is all that matters (2, Informative)

eldavojohn (898314) | more than 4 years ago | (#29769405)

As long as the books they sell are readable on any device they win in my book.

From the article:

The books bought from Google, and its partners, would be accessible on any gadget that has a Web browser, including smartphones, netbooks and personal computers and laptops. A book would be accessible offline after the first time it was accessed.

I believe the Kindle has an experimental web browser ... although why pay the premium if Google can offer what Amazon offers? Being a netbook user (and enjoying 7 hours of battery life) I'm very interested in this. My netbook was maybe $75 more than the Kindle.

Re:The format is all that matters (4, Interesting)

MBGMorden (803437) | more than 4 years ago | (#29769707)

The web browser thing makes sense to me given Google's app layout so far. I doubt you'll be buying a file at all. Instead, you'll probably get another tab on your Google area (akin to Documents, Photos, Reader, etc there are there now), and once you purchase access to a book it'll get tied to your account where you can read it online.

There's still some degree of vendor locking in that all your books would be on their servers, but at least there's no device lock-in.

I've certainly used a variety of devices to read ebooks though. I read The Wizard of Oz (admittedly a short book) on my iPod Touch because it was in a collection of public domain books I bought off the app store for $0.99.

I've read several books on my desktop computer at work, simply because when you have nothing to do, looking at PDF's still looks like you're working. My boss thinks I'm diligently reading something technical while in reality I'm reading "The Time Machine" or some other sci-fi novel :).

Re:The format is all that matters (1)

WaywardGeek (1480513) | more than 4 years ago | (#29770471)

Insightful post, which scared the heck out of me. However, TFA clearly indicates that any browser will do, and you'll be able to read off-line. Unless they're developing a custom plug-in for every browser everywhere that encrypts data on your disk, it's probably just plain old HTML. I suspect you'll be able to simply use file/save to save your book. However, you could be right.

The hard sell here is for Google to convince book publishers that it's OK to sell their books without DRM. It's one of those things where you know what's good for a whole freaking industry, but you can't easily get them to help themselves. Alternatively, book publishers are going to become slaves to a Amazon, with no bargaining power.

My wife self-published a nice book, which actually managed to make a little money. She listed it on Amazon for a while, until she realised that she lost money for every book sold!

Re:The format is all that matters (1)

oldhack (1037484) | more than 4 years ago | (#29771527)

Hey, er... is your company hiring?

Re:The format is all that matters (1)

MBGMorden (803437) | more than 4 years ago | (#29771697)

No, but the IT industry as a whole is often like that. Periods of twiddling your thumbs broken up by intense periods of work requiring overtime and the like. It's cheaper for most organizations to just pay people even between issues cropping up rather than rehiring every time something comes up ;). In between those periods of work they don't care what we do so long as we generally look busy.

Heck at a previous company I was at we'd play video games and such during our down time. They generally didn't care so long as we did it in the back where no visitors could see. Or as I heard one boss say once, "If you have nothing to do then we don't care if you do nothing, just make sure you're doing nothing where nobody can see you.".

Re:The format is all that matters (1)

jank1887 (815982) | more than 4 years ago | (#29769901)

"any gadget that has a Web browser"

hmmm... my LG VX8350 has opera mini... War and Peace may lead to some tired scrolly-thumbs.

Re:The format is all that matters (2, Insightful)

Seumas (6865) | more than 4 years ago | (#29770751)

As soon as a netbook can fit in my hand and use an e-ink screen, I might be all over that. In the meantime, I really don't want to spend even more hours staring at a big bright back-lit computer screen.

Also, google trying to *add* middemen to the process by involving retailers seems a bit odd, to me. How about google and I cut them out and I just buy it at a discount? I mean, you're not selling a physical service here -- so what are they a "wholesaler" of? Bits?

The price matters (5, Interesting)

dtzitz (937838) | more than 4 years ago | (#29769423)

What they charge per book matters. I am not sure how many people you are going to get to buy an e-book for the same price that they could pick up a physical copy at their local book store or less if they bought it used on amazon. I am going to hold judgment until I see some prices.

Re:The price matters (1)

OrangeTide (124937) | more than 4 years ago | (#29769611)

I am not sure how many people you are going to get to buy an e-book for the same price that they could pick up a physical copy at their local book store or less if they bought it used on amazon.

Amazon sells the ebooks for almost the same price as the physical copy, and appear to be very successful with it. The instant download and convenience is important enough for people to justify the high price. I don't think ebooks were ever about being cheaper. Ebooks are about convenience for the customer, and for the seller it means they don't have to maintain inventories and can have every book in stock all the time. Ebooks could possibly end the problem of out-of-print books, and it will only happen if the publisher chooses to end the book's publication.

It will be better once they stop using DRM, I would hate for 10 years from now Amazon decides that authenticating devices is too much work and they just make us all rebuy our books.

Re:The price matters (1)

LandDolphin (1202876) | more than 4 years ago | (#29771211)

See,

I just have a hard time paying the same price (or near it) for something that costs them less to produce. And of course, the DRM issue just makes it even harder for me to purchase.

Re:The price matters (1)

blueZ3 (744446) | more than 4 years ago | (#29771397)

This is why I personally don't "rent" anything. I don't "rent" music and I won't "rent" books, either. I do buy both (electronic copies of both books and music) but I'm not paying for something with DRM where when the distributor goes out of business I'm hosed. And I generally won't pay the physical media price for something that I'm only getting an electronic copy of.

Google and Amazon can get back to me when they offer DRM-less books, readable on the device of my choice, able to be backed up by me to a local drive, that cannot be "disabled" or "rescinded" by them and where they're still accessible even if Google and Amazon go out of business. Until then, I'll be killing trees and "buying my bits" elsewhere

Re:The price matters (1)

rossdee (243626) | more than 4 years ago | (#29769745)

Baen sells individual books for $5 to $6 each, when the cheapest paperbacks today are $7.99 plus tax.

Re:The price matters (1)

CannonballHead (842625) | more than 4 years ago | (#29769993)

Cheapest paperbacks are $8 plus tax? Maybe new for "hot" new books, but I know I've gotten paperbacks (not used) for less than $5, and used paperbacks for $0.99.

Re:The price matters (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#29771019)

That's way too dear for a tiny file. ebooks are doomed until fodder like novels is under $1.

Re:The price matters (1)

Zerth (26112) | more than 4 years ago | (#29769753)

Yah, I thought the kindle/ebook hardware was rather lame until I noticed how much paperbacks are lately. Getting books still in hardback for ~15% over paperback(or cheaper, for trade size), it didn't seem so bad.

There are a few authors I might always buy in hardback, but if paperback prices ever go over ebook prices, I'd probably never going to buy another paperback. But then I'm the kind that rarely sells back a book.

PS, why do they use trade size for books? I get why they do it for advance copies, since it is formatted the same as the hardback, but why for retail?

Re:The price matters (1)

Jah-Wren Ryel (80510) | more than 4 years ago | (#29771479)

Probably because it stands out on the shelf, attracting more attention.

Re:The price matters (1)

Chyeld (713439) | more than 4 years ago | (#29769861)

Though I can't find the article from work, it interested me last night while I was reading up on Google Editions that one of the articles indicated that there would be the option to convert your book into a paperback at some undetermined price.

For me, that sounds like the best of both worlds.

Re:The price matters (1)

Thaelon (250687) | more than 4 years ago | (#29770929)

I am not sure how many people you are going to get to buy an e-book for the same price that they could pick up a physical copy at their local book store

I'm at least one.

I'd rather have ebooks to replace my huge, difficult to move, packed away in boxes, hard to find what I want library with a machine searchable list so small I can carry the entire library on my iPhone or N810 anywhere I go. If I could trade in all the books in my library for digital editions readable in Stanza, I'd do it today and pay to have it done.

what's the DRM story? (3, Insightful)

TheGratefulNet (143330) | more than 4 years ago | (#29769361)

and what file format are they? they say 'browser based'. does that include lynx?

how OPEN is this, really? anyone know?

Re:what's the DRM story? (-1, Offtopic)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#29769387)

and what file format are they? they say 'browser based'. does that include lynx?

how OPEN is this, really? anyone know?

Lynx? Lynx? What a poo-poo head

DRM sux (2, Funny)

OrangeTide (124937) | more than 4 years ago | (#29769477)

At least upgrade to Mosaic [floodgap.com] . I'm just disappointed that Google isn't available on Gopher [floodgap.com] , and I can read ebooks just fine as plain text, this is how we've been doing it for many many years and the format Project Gutenberg started out using. Some people even host their blogs [quux.org] on gopher.

Re:DRM sux (1)

jank1887 (815982) | more than 4 years ago | (#29769871)

I'm interested, please show me what the terminal screen version of Mosaic is like.

Re:DRM sux (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#29770239)

Seems like it's only compatible with Lynx. :(

Re:DRM sux (1)

TheGratefulNet (143330) | more than 4 years ago | (#29770983)

mosaic doesn't run on text-based terms, does it?

seriously - lynx compat is a useful thing for when you don't NEED graphics. a lot of books would read just fine even if the images were omitted.

the thing about lynx compat means your browser usually can be very lightweight, so even if you like graphics, you won't be bogged down with a lot of 'scripty' slowdowns. I hate scripty things. for book content, push static data to me and don't expect me to *compute* a damned thing.

Re:what's the DRM story? (1)

durrr (1316311) | more than 4 years ago | (#29769549)

Probably very open, DRM on ebooks allowed on ordinary computers is entirely pointless, optic character recognition on screen captures would render any DRM system dead on arrival. Google should know this.

Re:what's the DRM story? (1)

Shagg (99693) | more than 4 years ago | (#29769689)

Yes, DRM on eBooks is pointless. That doesn't stop them from doing it anyway. Most copyrighted commercial eBooks have DRM (and most of them have already been broken).

Re:what's the DRM story? (-1, Troll)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#29769691)

I hope you get AIDS.

Re:what's the DRM story? (1)

Chyeld (713439) | more than 4 years ago | (#29769927)

Why not take a peek [google.com] and answer your questions directly.

Re:what's the DRM story? (1)

thetoadwarrior (1268702) | more than 4 years ago | (#29771737)

As long as it open enough to be used on any system (within reason) that's all that matters. Supporting Lynx is unnecessary.

Why are they paying retailers? (4, Interesting)

jhfry (829244) | more than 4 years ago | (#29769401)

I don't understand why they would be paying "the vast majority" (of whats left after paying the publisher) to retailers?

I haven't read the article yet, but either the summary is way off, misleading, or it just doesn't make sense!

Re:Why are they paying retailers? (1)

geekoid (135745) | more than 4 years ago | (#29769413)

Because the retailers need to make money or they won't offer the books?

Re:Why are they paying retailers? (2, Insightful)

jhfry (829244) | more than 4 years ago | (#29769773)

Why do they need retailers at all? If they are paying the publisher anyway... why not just sell direct and give a larger cut to the publisher. I guess what I want to know is, what role does the retailer play here? It would by like going to iTunes to buy a song, and have to choose which retailer is going to get credit for the sale. It's a download, not a TV, so Amazons retailer model doesn't make sense here, people will simply always buy from the cheapest source and that source will be the one who only takes $.01 above cost (from the publisher) hoping for volume. So essentially 45% will go to the publisher, and a great majority of the other 55% will go the publisher.... why the middle man.

Re:Why are they paying retailers? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#29769829)

Maybe they'll remove the middle man once they get more licenses from the publishers.

Re:Why are they paying retailers? (1)

Red Flayer (890720) | more than 4 years ago | (#29771411)

Because Google doesn't do retailing. It's not part of the business.

There is good reason for this. Google does what it does by being usable by everyone -- in this case, as a kind of wholesaler. If they get into retailing, now they are competing against others directly in the retail market -- which means those competitors won't use Google as their wholesaler.

It's better for Google if they are the wholesaler for as many retailers as possible, instead of being wholesaler & retailer only for themselves.

Not to overpersonify, but Google wants to be everywhere and behind everything. If they start elbowing out their customers in those customers' own spaces, they'd be shooting themselves in the foot.

Re:Why are they paying retailers? (1)

Disgruntled Goats (1635745) | more than 4 years ago | (#29769445)

I don't understand why they would be paying "the vast majority" (of whats left after paying the publisher) to retailers? I haven't read the article yet, but either the summary is way off, misleading, or it just doesn't make sense!

Because the retailers want to be paid for their books that Google is selling from them?

Re:Why are they paying retailers? (1)

Schadrach (1042952) | more than 4 years ago | (#29770541)

You're missing something here.

Let's say Scholastic publishes a book. Scholastic's book goes up for sale on Google's new thing.

Scholastic is the publisher, what retailer is involved and why should they be paid anything?

Re:Why are they paying retailers? (0)

Disgruntled Goats (1635745) | more than 4 years ago | (#29770825)

No, I'm not missing anything. It's you who seem to be missing something. Google has partnerships with retailers to sell books through Google's store. Hence why they will be getting a chunk of the money from the sales.

Re:Why are they paying retailers? (2, Informative)

Arthur Grumbine (1086397) | more than 4 years ago | (#29769759)

I haven't read the article yet, but either the summary is way off, misleading, or it just doesn't make sense!

I guess TFS could be considered misleading if you believed that it was claiming to completely explain Google's plan. Or maybe, TFS was just incomplete (as summaries tend to be). From TFA:

"Google Editions allows retail partners to sell their books, especially those who haven't invested in a digital platform," he said. "We expect the majority (of customers) will go to retail partners not to Google. We are a wholesaler, a book distributor."

Re:Why are they paying retailers? (1)

jhfry (829244) | more than 4 years ago | (#29770009)

I did read the article... and I am still baffled.

This is an electronic download, presumably from Google's servers. Google will pay the publisher, as will the retailer. With multiple retailers selling the exact same digital download, competition will drive the price down to $0.01 over what the retailer pays the publisher... so why bother with a retailer at all. In fact if google does really open with this model, I will start a company that will simply sell thousands of books for 1 cent over what the publisher will charge me.

Imagine iTunes using this model, paying multiple retailers to sell songs in the iTunes store. It just doesn't make sense with digital downloads.

With Amazon, (not digital books) multiple retailer's make sense... it's a physical good and the retailers can compete on speed, pre and post sale support, proximity to the customer, negotiations with their distributors etc. But digital downloads eliminate everything but price.

Re:Why are they paying retailers? (4, Informative)

PaintyThePirate (682047) | more than 4 years ago | (#29769797)

I was confused too. The summary is missing this key piece of information:

"Google Editions allows retail partners to sell their books, especially those who haven't invested in a digital platform," he said. "We expect the majority (of customers) will go to retail partners not to Google. We are a wholesaler, a book distributor."

Re:Why are they paying retailers? (1)

jhfry (829244) | more than 4 years ago | (#29770515)

Good now its clear as mud.

Google will digitize and host the books and sell that service to retailers who will then sell the downloads.

Essentially competition will drive the price to $0.01 over what Google's hosting costs. I will setup a website, selling every book google will let me, for exactly $0.01 over what Google is charging me for thier services.... retailers won't stand a chance!

Google is competing with retailers, even if they use this model they will essentially eliminate the ability for retailers to compete. Sure B&N might sell a few for a while, but it won't take long before everyone knows they can get their books cheaper at somecheapbooksite.com and save themselves a trip to the store.

Re:Why are they paying retailers? (2, Informative)

Chyeld (713439) | more than 4 years ago | (#29770015)

Google isn't creating a bookstore, they are creating a backend for bookstores to use.

In otherwords they hope to have you walk into a Barnes & Noble, Waldenbooks, or whatever brick and motar stores are still out there in the era of Amazon.com, and/or visit these company's websites, and purchase a "Google Editions" version of the book as opposed to having their own dedicated webfront like Amazon does.

Man the above sentence is tourtured grammer, but I can't make it come out any better.

Re:Why are they paying retailers? (1)

jhfry (829244) | more than 4 years ago | (#29770341)

This is actually the most reasonable response I have heard to my question. So the way you understand it is that Google will not have a website to visit at all... they will just digitize and host the books, letting the retailers be responsible for marketing and sales.

Of course I will still open a web storefront that sells the books for $0.01 over whatever I would pay google to host the download. And I would ask google to let me sell their entire catalog of books. I may even ask google to host my site for me... I'll just sit back and make money.

But this actually cleared it up for me. I was thinking along the lines of Amazon's marketplace, which makes no sense in digital media sales.

Re:Why are they paying retailers? (1)

Chyeld (713439) | more than 4 years ago | (#29770875)

The problem you'll run into with that setup is it seems the publishers set the price tag (per this and most of the other articles I've read about Google Editions so far). So your virtual web front will have the same prices as the rest of Googles partners, preventing you from driving traffic to your store simply by undercutting everyone.

This is good and bad. It's good because it means that someone in theory can setup a 'niche' web site and promote books that fit that niche for a low cost (due to presumably low traffic) without worrying that if their subject matterial becomes mainstream, the big dogs will come in and be able to eat their lunch by undercuting the prices.

It's bad because publishers aren't always the best judges of what price point a book would sell best at, and this whole project could tumble if the publishers get too greedy too soon.

what does browser based mean? (2, Insightful)

e**(i pi)-1 (462311) | more than 4 years ago | (#29769417)

obvious questions: if it is browser based, can one read the book without being online? Can one download the book temporarily or for good? Are records kept from where and how long a reader reads a book and what kind of books are read? Will this be tied to your online profile and get you reader specific ads?

Re:what does browser based mean? (5, Informative)

eldavojohn (898314) | more than 4 years ago | (#29769531)

obvious questions: if it is browser based, can one read the book without being online? Can one download the book temporarily or for good? Are records kept from where and how long a reader reads a book and what kind of books are read? Will this be tied to your online profile and get you reader specific ads?

From the article:

The books bought from Google, and its partners, would be accessible on any gadget that has a Web browser, including smartphones, netbooks and personal computers and laptops. A book would be accessible offline after the first time it was accessed.

There's an awful lot of questions and assumptions being asked about this device that are answered quite clearly in the article. I don't think anything about 'reader ads' are ads while reading was included in this. You'd be paying money for these books (just like with Amazon's Kindle), no ad supported revenue.

Re:what does browser based mean? (1)

CopaceticOpus (965603) | more than 4 years ago | (#29769683)

This may be a big use for Google Gears. Perhaps Gears was created to support Google's book sales and online apps, and then Chrome was created to push other browsers towards Gears compatibility. You can't accuse Google of thinking small.

If the books are really just displayed in the browser as text, there will probably be tools developed by hackers to extract the contents to a text file. I wonder if Google will fight this or just let it happen?

Re:what does browser based mean? (1)

CannonballHead (842625) | more than 4 years ago | (#29770003)

That was my thought, too. This seems like the "perfect" use for Google Gears. Well, if you're Google. I'd rather be able to download it...

From TFA: (1)

denzacar (181829) | more than 4 years ago | (#29769553)

A book would be accessible offline after the first time it was accessed.

Re:From TFA: (1)

JSBiff (87824) | more than 4 years ago | (#29769653)

If I had to guess, I would guess that Google is possibly going to leverage the "Google Gears" tech for this (although, that might mean that some cell phones wouldn't be compatible, so perhaps not). Or, maybe they will just offer you a pdf or html download? Time will tell.

Re:From TFA: (2, Interesting)

JustNiz (692889) | more than 4 years ago | (#29769669)

Yeah I read that too, but am still concerned why would you have to access it the first time via a browser? This might indicate that you're not really able to download a full copy as a single (non-DRM'd) file that you could put on another (browserless) e-book reader. Rather that you have to rely on some Google-supplied plugin to read an encrypted mess from your browser cache.

Re:what does browser based mean? (2, Insightful)

Shagg (99693) | more than 4 years ago | (#29769639)

Usually, it means the eBook store is browser based. You go online, buy, and download the eBook via your browser. After that you can open and read the file on any device that supports the format (generally with DRM). They probably know what books you've bought from them since it's tied to your account, but I don't think they're going to be monitoring where or how long you read a particular eBook for. I don't see how they could, since they don't control the devices.

hy I will never buy en eboor reader. (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#29770291)

if it is browser based, can one read the book without being online?

Buy a paperback and don't worry about it.

Can one download the book temporarily or for good??

Buy a paperback and don't worry about it.

Are records kept from where and how long a reader reads a book and what kind of books are read??

Buy a paperback and don't worry about it.

Will this be tied to your online profile and get you reader specific ads?

Buy a paperback and don't worry about it.

Any other questions I can answer for you?

amazon vs. Google (0, Flamebait)

buchner.johannes (1139593) | more than 4 years ago | (#29769435)

I don't mind Google stealing a piece of Amazons profit, they at least invest in (yet) non-profitable ideas, Amazon just makes its shareholders rich.

Re:amazon vs. Google (1, Redundant)

Jeian (409916) | more than 4 years ago | (#29769475)

Amazon just makes its shareholders rich.

BREAKING NEWS: For-profit corporation makes money. Details at 11.

Re:amazon vs. Google (2, Insightful)

cryfreedomlove (929828) | more than 4 years ago | (#29769479)

Amazon just makes its shareholders rich.

What's wrong with that?

Re:amazon vs. Google (4, Insightful)

Shakrai (717556) | more than 4 years ago | (#29769621)

What's wrong with that?

Hippie: Because it's the corporations man. The corporations are raping and destroying the world. *takes a hit* We should get rid of all the corporations and like live together somewhere and like help each other. We can have one guy who makes bread and another guy who looks after people's safety.
Stan: You mean like a baker and a cop?
Hippie: You kids just don't understand because you haven't been to college yet.

Re:amazon vs. Google (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#29769631)

welcome to my enemies list, Mr Conservative. Don't you have a teaparty of a capitalism-worship service to go to?

Re:amazon vs. Google (1)

cryfreedomlove (929828) | more than 4 years ago | (#29769733)

Why am I your enemy? I think you would find i'm not really a conservative on a lot of issues. I believe in universal single pay health care, gay marriage, prohibitions against torture, anti death penalty, etc etc

Re:amazon vs. Google (1)

buchner.johannes (1139593) | more than 4 years ago | (#29769635)

Amazon just makes its shareholders rich.

What's wrong with that?

Nothing is wrong with that.

Re:amazon vs. Google (1)

WNight (23683) | more than 4 years ago | (#29771383)

What in that recommends them to me?

Google made a cool search engine, Amazon made an e-store. With Google's free products I can do neat things. With Amazon's free... well, they don't have any.

So yeah, all their profit goes to the owners and as I'm not one there's no motivation to use them or hope for their success.

No, profits aren't evil, but an excessive focus on money will blind you to supporting the community and providing products people like. And that's not evil, just stupid. What's Amazon ever done for me?

I'll be checking out Google's offering while they think of something.

Re:amazon vs. Google (4, Interesting)

Brainix (748988) | more than 4 years ago | (#29769617)

Amazon has done some interesting research and development lately. In particular, look at Amazon's EC2 cloud computing platform [amazon.com] , as well as Amazon's statistically improbable phrases (SIP) algorithm [amazon.com] . I have a fetish for natural language parsing, so SIP is particularly interesting to me. These are innovations.

Re:amazon vs. Google (1)

op12 (830015) | more than 4 years ago | (#29770249)

Agreed! See also: A9 [a9.com] and Mechanical Turk [mturk.com] . Amazon's been doing a lot of interesting projects.

Re:amazon vs. Google (1)

glwtta (532858) | more than 4 years ago | (#29770925)

as well as Amazon's statistically improbable phrases (SIP) algorithm

The SIPs seem to be nothing more than simple collocations - it's a fun feature, but how exactly is it innovative?

Re:amazon vs. Google (2, Funny)

Shakrai (717556) | more than 4 years ago | (#29769641)

Amazon just makes its shareholders rich.

Did I miss the headline where Google bought back all outstanding shares and converted itself into a non-profit corporation?

Re:amazon vs. Google (1)

dissy (172727) | more than 4 years ago | (#29769687)

Did I miss the headline where Google bought back all outstanding shares and converted itself into a non-profit corporation?

Meh, it was probably in the article linked in the summary which none of us read ;}

Re:amazon vs. Google (1)

trickyD1ck (1313117) | more than 4 years ago | (#29769665)

Shareholders in turn bake that money into pies. That is KKKapitalism for you.

Just e books? (1)

Threni (635302) | more than 4 years ago | (#29769461)

why not everything else?

Kindle screen (0, Troll)

BigHungryJoe (737554) | more than 4 years ago | (#29769513)

Look, if you read celebrity gossip sites and such, yes, you're going to be able to read the latest vampire romance that you bought at the google ebook store on your iPhone.

But if you're an educated person of culture and refinement, you don't like reading on a computer screen. You enjoy the tactile sensation of turning pages and reading real books. In a pinch, you'll use your Kindle.

Printing will never catch on! (2, Insightful)

argent (18001) | more than 4 years ago | (#29770277)

But if you're an educated person of culture and refinement, you don't like reading on a computer screen. You enjoy the tactile sensation of turning pages and reading real books.

Bah, this newfangled "paper" stuff is pretty cheap and nasty looking when you compare it with real parchment. Educated people are willing to pay extra for professionally illuminated manuscripts.

Re:Printing will never catch on! (1)

Cro Magnon (467622) | more than 4 years ago | (#29770745)

Parchment is too flimsy. Stick with stone tablets. They'll never go out of style.

Re:Kindle screen (1)

Seumas (6865) | more than 4 years ago | (#29770799)

The kindle part, sure. But if you're a person of "culture and class and refinement", you probably only write with a quill pen and light your home by candle.

Re:Kindle screen (1)

Calithulu (1487963) | more than 4 years ago | (#29771111)

As an educated person of culture and refinement I prefer using my eBook reader for everything, from physics text books [opentextbook.org] to philosophy to fiction. It is difficult to travel with a few heavy books (and I'm always reading a few different books), but a 285 gram eBook reader can fit in my pocket wherever I go and carry an entire library with me. In a pinch, I'll use a phone.

While I can understand a preference for paper (it is what most of us grew up with, after all), the conveniences of eBooks are already outweighing the advantages of paper. This is especially true of dedicated eBook readers with e-ink displays. The one downside is the requirement of electricity (to recharge the batteries), but there aresolar powered chargers [defender.com] to make remote use possible.

If the insidious DRM and vendor lock-in of the Kindle is a problem, I suggest getting one of the BeBook from Endless Ideas [mybebook.com] and loading openInkpot firmware on it. Even the Sony PRS-505 and PRS-600 are more open than the Kindle and the PRS-600 offers a touch screen to boot.

Out of print. (3, Insightful)

JustNiz (692889) | more than 4 years ago | (#29769727)

I like the fact that Google are focussing on out-of-print books.
It boggles my mind why Google scanning out-of-print books is kicking up a shit storm with book publishers though. I mean if the books are so marketable why are they out-of-print in the first place?
Also, where else would I go to get an out-of-print book? perhaps a used book store but the publishers dont get a cut of that either but don't seem to mind those. At least with Google selling on their behalf they could arrange some kickback.

Re:Out of print. (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#29770081)

It is because essentially, google takes before it pays.

Also, rumor has it that google has actually taken the sole rights to distribute books of which the rightful owner is not known.

Re:Out of print. (1)

Chyeld (713439) | more than 4 years ago | (#29770151)

People are reactionary, and despite our best intentions, most of us are still luddites outside of our 'natural' habitat.

One might as well ask why people still believe cellphones will cause a second head to grow out of your neck, food irradiated for sterilization will give you super powers, and high voltage lines cause autism.

Re:Out of print. (2, Insightful)

JustinOpinion (1246824) | more than 4 years ago | (#29770337)

It boggles my mind why Google scanning out-of-print books is kicking up a shit storm with book publishers though. I mean if the books are so marketable why are they out-of-print in the first place?

Well the publisher's positions are not necessarily totally irrational. They are worried that if people have easy access to all these out-of-print books, they will purchase fewer new titles. Even though there isn't enough profit to be made by publishing many of these individual titles, the aggregate of all out-of-print books may capture enough "mindshare" to cut into the interest in books that are in print.

Now, I don't think this is a great argument. It basically relies on copyright and old-style inefficiencies to prop-up modern sales. It also makes many assumptions about people's purchasing behaviors. Frankly I'd rather copyright terms just be shorter, so that what Google is doing is unambiguously acceptable. But the publishers are "simply" trying to protect their profits. (The irrational part is that this isn't the best way to make money. Embracing new technologies and being consumer-friendly is, I believe, a more effective strategy.)

Re:Out of print. (1)

PReDiToR (687141) | more than 4 years ago | (#29770677)

Remember when some whacko read Lord of The Rings and decided to turn it into a movie with loads of bits missing, and tons of people went and bought the book to see what Holywood [sic] wouldn't show them?

Sometimes reprinting is very good business. And no, LoTR wasn't an out of print book, but for the purposes of this post it serves as a good enough example if you can imagine it had been.

Re:Out of print. (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#29771313)

It boggles my mind why Google scanning out-of-print books is kicking up a shit storm with book publishers though.

Because they would compete with the books currently being sold in the bookstore.

ebooks are ok with me as long as they aren't DRM (0)

Paul Carver (4555) | more than 4 years ago | (#29769735)

I just recently bought my first couple of ebooks from O'Reilly.

I am completely unwilling to buy anything with DRM, but O'Reilly's ebooks are available simultaneously in PDF, ePub and Mobi formats. I downloaded the ePub version to Stanza on my iPhone and copied the PDF version to my desktop and verified that I can read it with no problem on an non-Internet-connected computer.

I'm happy and will probably buy more. I've bought four ebooks from O'Reilly including two that were at a very nice price of $9.99 and two that were more expensive. I've read one of them all the way through on my iPhone and I've started two others.

As long as I'm guaranteed that I can read the book forever on any device that supports an standard format such as PDF regardless of whether a company still exists I'm ok with it. I'm not going to buy any book, music, or movie that requires my reading/viewing device to seek authorization from some server over the Internet.

O'Reilly's eBook Site (2, Interesting)

Bigbutt (65939) | more than 4 years ago | (#29769879)

I actually like O'Reilly's Safari site for my eBooks. It's accessible to my iPhone as well as my various systems. As a consultant, it works better than dragging books around and the books are available for download. It's also very readable as each chapter is a single "page" vs many reference books I have are multi-column.

Having a similar Google site where the books are available whereever I am assuming 'net access plus it's off-line so I can read it when I'm out of range sounds a lot better than the Kindle at least for my purposes.

[John]

Crappy Displays (1)

smcdow (114828) | more than 4 years ago | (#29770097)

Keeping in mind that all back-lit displays suck, can we please have a reader that doesn't suck?

I mean other than the Kindle.

Re:Crappy Displays (1)

Seumas (6865) | more than 4 years ago | (#29770827)

Agreed. Only thing keeping me from the Kindle right now is that I can't justify $260 for what you get. Drop another $60 and I'd be all over that. I'm not to pleased with the prices, though. Ten bucks starting price for a book when it's all bits and nothing physical? That seems like money-grab on the other side. So I can pay a couple dollars more than a paperback costs, but read it on a little six inch screen, instead? Um . . Hurrah . . . I guess? It's the same kind of digital videogame download money grab that puts me off. If your only expense is bandwidth, why are you charging me the same price as the version you have to manufacture, transport, store, and shelve?

Kindle app for iPhone/iPod (3, Interesting)

theurge14 (820596) | more than 4 years ago | (#29770681)

The summary mentioned Google will be going up against Kindle owners but didn't mention the Kindle app for iPhone.

As of August 31 2009 the Kindle app for the iPhone was the 4th most popular app in the App Store [ireaderreview.com] , with estimates of 3 million Kindle for iPhone users out there.

Google will be going against this as well as Stanza and the B&N ebook readers. Apparently there's a rather large market for ebooks on the iPhone/iPod touch.

See you later, Amazon (0, Troll)

93 Escort Wagon (326346) | more than 4 years ago | (#29770903)

You looked fairly good out there, but practice is over - it's the big guy's turn on the field.

As a Publisher (1)

TastyCakes (917232) | more than 4 years ago | (#29770953)

I think it would be really interesting if these services were able to start signing their own authors. Then they could charge lower prices while still paying the authors fairly but ignoring their publishers, who seem to me costly, useless, vestigial middle men in any of these online distribution processes. I also wonder if iTunes will ever fill a similar role for music. I suspect it is more likely there, since most money made on music is likely to be through digital distribution long before books (which people continue to overwhelmingly buy on paper in brick and mortar stores) and the publishing industry collects an even more egregious percentage of the proceeds. The issue, I suppose, is whether these online distributors can recognise, advertise and grow talent as well as the traditional players. I think that's quite possible with iTunes, I don't know so much about these book outlets.
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