Google launches eBooks; Can the Kindle, Nook survive this eBook battle?

Summary:The competition in the eBook space is heating up today, with Google announcing Google eBooks and a new Google eBookstore.Google, which is no stranger to digital books, boasts more than 3 million titles, including "hundreds of thousands" of titles for sale.

The competition in the eBook space is heating up today, with Google announcing Google eBooks and a new Google eBookstore.

Google, which is no stranger to digital books, boasts more than 3 million titles, including "hundreds of thousands" of titles for sale. But unlike Amazon or Barnes and Noble, which offer their Kindle and Nook e-readers, Google doesn't appear to be interested in selling an eBook reader. From its blog post announcing the news:

Most devices with a modern browser are compatible with Google eBooks -- everything from laptops to netbooks to tablets to smartphones to e-readers. Using the new Google eBooks Web Reader, you can buy, store and read Google eBooks in the cloud. That means you can access your ebooks like you would messages in Gmail or photos in Picasa -- using a free, password-protected Google account with unlimited ebooks storage.

Like Amazon and Barnes and Noble, Google is also rolling out apps for Android devices, as well as Apple's iPhone and iPad, to allow shopping and reading on the go. (Kindle and Nook also have apps available for other platforms, as well.) In addition, many of the books allow users to select font, font size, day/night reading mode and line-spacing.

That's important to note because Amazon has repeatedly tried to differentiate the Kindle experience from Apple's iBooks experience by noting that the iPhone and iPad are not dedicated e-readers and that, specifically, those Apple screens don't allow for optimal reading during daylight hours.

I don't own a Kindle but have purchased books via Kindle for reading on my Android phone and iPod Touch. The daytime sunshine has never been a problem for reading from those devices.

I don't read books nearly as often as I should, which makes me a hard sell for an e-reader. I'm not opposed to one - but no one has been able to sell me on the value of the e-reader. Is the e-ink the only real selling point? If so, I'd rather hang on to my $149 (Nook) or $139 (Kindle) and just buy some books to read on one of the many other devices I already have.

Amazon continues to play up the value of the e-reader but I'm just wondering if e-readers won't soon be replaced by tablets and other devices that can certainly double as e-readers and do much more, as well.

After all, isn't the real value behind the book itself and not the device that's used to read it? Google, which offers its thoughts on books in its blog post, seems to think so. The company said:

When Google Books first launched in 2004, we set out to make the information stored in the world’s books accessible and useful online. Since then, we’ve digitized more than 15 million books from more than 35,000 publishers, more than 40 libraries, and more than 100 countries in more than 400 languages. This deep repository of knowledge and culture will continue to be searchable through Google Books search in the research section alongside the ebookstore.

Related coverage:

Topics: Google, Hardware, Mobility

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