I frequently talk about how much I love Amazon’s Kindle products. Not just the physical ebook hardware, which is currently my favorite way to read long form fiction and non-fiction, but also the way you can easily access the same content on every device. Mac, Windows, iPhone, Android, Blackberry and iPad are all devices supported for Kindle ebooks. Notably absent from that list are the Barnes & Noble Nook and Sony Reader. The thing I really like about this scenario is being able to start reading a book in one place and pick up where I left off somewhere else. Today Google ebookstore becomes the only real alternative to the Kindle platform.
Like Amazon Kindle, Google ebookstore offers a huge selection of titles you can read on virtually any device. Google currently does not support Blackberry or the Amazon Kindle hardware. Sony and Nook readers are supported by Google. Both bookstores use technology that allows you to start reading in one place and continue elsewhere. Both allow you to maintain a library of books to download to devices or through mobile apps. As would be expected from Google, the search function works very well in their ebooks. Google also seems to keep the concept of a “page” alive in their ebooks, which allows for a common currency in discussion between someone reading the online version and someone reading a print edition of the same book.
Where Google lags Amazon at the moment is in the ability to highlight text and take notes. While I don’t personally use this feature, I find the idea of being able to use it useful for referring to information in the future. The other thing Google does not have is a track record in providing great customer service. I haven’t needed any help with the Google ebookstore yet, but based on other customer service experiences I have had with Google, that may be the thing that drives people away.
As someone well invested in the Kindle platform, I don’t plan to switch to Google’s new ebook offering. Having said that, if you’re in the market for an ebook provider, definitely take a look at Google before you make up your mind.
Have you tried the new Google ebookstore? What did you like (or not)?