Google Books app splurts 3 million titles in UK launch
Book-grabber faces off with Kindle and iBooks in Blighty
Android users will be able to browse 3 million books on their phones, after Google Books launched in the UK yesterday.
The app has been out in the States for a while but will be available to British Android users from today.
Google Books promises a vast array of titles from "favorite bestsellers, up-and-coming authors and rare out-of-print books". Two million of the 3 million books are free, while the others are available for purchase after Google deals with publishers Hachette Filipacchi and Blackwells, among others.
The app is cross-platform – working on Android, iPhone, PC and eReader – you just have to sign in with your Google account to get access. Google is also making a big show of its synchronisation; the app lets you pick up reading on your phone where you left off on your laptop. It's a "library in the cloud", though some readers may take issue with where one can and cannot download the books.
It's a challenge to the Kindle model, although reviewers on the Android Marketplace page say that the app for Android phones isn't ideal for easy reading: "visually it could be more impressive", "a rather pathetic reader w absolutely no customization possible. Can't even read text on phone screen", and other comments on how it comes pre-installed on the refreshes of Android instead of being optional. Not everyone was upset - there are 6,355 five-star reviews and one user described the app as "phenomenal".
Google has faced much criticism from the creative industry on its book-grabbing ways; it has faced multiple legal actions from publishers, writers and lobby groups on copyright issues.
Google Books is free on the Android Market. ®
The harsh reality.
If you want modern books, you have to live with DRM.
You can choose DRM on EPUB, which means you can read your book on anything but a Kindle. Or you can choose DRM on MOBI and it means you can only buy your content from Amazon and read it on Amazon approved devices.
Me, I prefer EPUB, as whilst it's still got DRM, I can choose where I read it.
It needs a bit of work....
I've just downloaded "Pride and Prejudice" on my Android phone.
Opened the book.
The first line was...
"Elizabeth, as they drove along, watched for the first appearance of Pemberley Woods with some perturbation."
Eh?? - what about that "truth universally acknowledged" line?
Turns out that this is Volume III of the original three-volume book. No sign of Volume 1 or 2 anywhere....
Did the person who wrote there is no customisation actually use the app? It has all the usual customisation ie. Font size, typeface, day/night, brightness and orientation, as well as linespace (first time I've seen that on a phone ebook app) and justification.
The price of books seems reasonable - £4.99 for Iain M Banks titles. Not sure if it was this that has pushed the proce down on Amazon, but Surface detail was more expensive as an eBook than paperback on Amazon a few months ago.
Its quite a clean, almost plain looking interface but what do you want from an ebook reader? We readers use our imagination - if you want beautiful visuals, WATCH A FILM!