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Google Books app splurts 3 million titles in UK launch

Book-grabber faces off with Kindle and iBooks in Blighty

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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. ®

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