Google challenges e-readers by taking e-books directly to browser

Google challenges e-readers by taking e-books directly to browser

Summary: Who needs an e-reader or a special app when I've already got the only e-reader/app that I need: a Web browser?Google said today that it will launch in the first half of next year an online store to offer e-books that can be read on any device with a Web browser, according to a Reuters report.

SHARE:

Who needs an e-reader or a special app when I've already got the only e-reader/app that I need: a Web browser?

Google said today that it will launch in the first half of next year an online store to offer e-books that can be read on any device with a Web browser, according to a Reuters report. Yup, that means e-book reading comes to the browser on your desktop, laptop, iPhone and probably even some WiFi-enabled handheld gaming devices.

That feels like a pretty big blow to the likes of Amazon, which has made a name in e-book readers with its popular Kindle brand, Sony and now even Barnes and Noble, which is expected to announce an e-reader of its own at a New York City event next week.

Google Editions will initially include e-books from publishers it already partners with and customers will be able to buy e-books from Google or an online book store such as Amazon or Barnes and Noble. (Oh, the irony of it all.)

Forrester media analyst Sarah Rotman Epps told Reuters that Google's entry doesn't necessarily mean that it will steal share from Amazon - largely because the "Kindle" and "e-reader" already go hand-in-hand in the minds of many consumers. Plus, there have been price drops on the readers, making them even more attractive for serious readers.

This will also be a revenue-generator for Google's books projects. It will share revenue of e-book sales with publishers.

Topics: Google, Browser, Hardware, Mobility

Kick off your day with ZDNet's daily email newsletter. It's the freshest tech news and opinion, served hot. Get it.

Talkback

24 comments
Log in or register to join the discussion
  • Kindle Format?

    Did they also say how they propose to display Kindle's proprietary format in your browser?
    dunraven
    • Oh my

      Dunraven, go get a good strong cup of coffee, drink it down, and read the article again. You just aren't awake yet.
      LadyGray
      • Re-Read

        "Google Editions will initially include e-books from publishers it already partners with and customers will be able to buy e-books from Google or an online book store [b]such as Amazon[/b]"

        You think they're going to buy paperbacks from Amazon?
        dunraven
        • Irony

          "to offer e-books that can be read on any device with a [b]Web browser[/b]"

          So, Google offers e-books that can be read on a Web Browser, and might sell these web-browsable books on Amazon.

          I guess the irony slipped past you. These will not be Kindle e-books, which support Amazon's Kindle. These will be Google e-books, which can be read on a browser. So Amazon would sell e-books that directly compete with their e-books. Kindle e-books cannot be read on a browser, and Google e-books cannot be read on a Kindle.
          LadyGray
  • This is cool!

    NT
    Heatlesssun
  • RE: Google challenges e-readers by taking e-books directly to browser

    Anyone who believes that "the ?Kindle? and ?e-reader? already go hand-in-hand" must be late-comers to the e-book party. E-book reader software has been available for years, the ones I use the most are from Microsoft and Mobipocket. The idea of buying an over-priced single-function device to read books is ludricous. "Ooh, It can play MP3s too!" With the money I save from not buying a Kindle I can buy a Slacker music player, a couple years of personal radio subscriptions and still have money left to buy e-books!
    david.urano@...
  • With Google, the only revenue model that counts is its own

    Google loves the browser, because the bigger the audience, the more money it makes - as it can more easily extend its advertising monopoly everywhere. This of course comes at a price to OEMs, ISVs, advertising agencies, etc., as they become less and less able to compete. E.g. when OEMs couple great hardware designs with custom local software to create really great user experiences, they are able to highly differentiate themselves and garner greater revenue - like Apple. When they resort to cranking out highly generic hardware and software (with user experiences centered in particular around the browser) their margins increasingly shrink towards zero.

    As a principle, I think it would be a lot better if the computer industry embrace interooperable standards for services and hardware components, while at the same time delivering differentiated user experiences through local software like we see on the iPhone and innovate PCs like the <a href=http://channel9.msdn.com/posts/LarryLarsen/A-Look-at-HP-TouchSmart-300-and-600/>HP Touchsmart</a>. Therefore I think it is in Amazon's and others' best interest, to build desktop e-readers for the PC, that are distinctly more functional than Google's browser based reader, and which deliver better user experiences.

    Many people blindly sing praises about the browser, and they do not see Google oozing its influence everywhere the browser touches, driving value away from many businesses, as it accrues that value to itself. People beware! Google's the Blob! ;-)
    P. Douglas
  • hmmm

    that's exactly how I want to read a book - sitting at my desk, looking at a computer screen that MUST have wifi. Yep, that really appeals to me as a casual user.

    And on a plane - yep, will really help pass the time.

    I mean - come on - not everything in life can be done via a browser!!!! I actually can see it for research or school work but not for leisure reading.

    I'll take a book or e-reader any time over my pc and browser. In fact, I'll take the pc if I can download it. But not tethered to a browser constantly.
    steeleblue_cactus
  • RE: Google challenges e-readers by taking e-books directly to browser

    Great! now all i need is a...netbook that's as small as my e-reader, as light as my e-reader and has the same or better battery life than my e-reader, then I'll be ready to convert. I already spend all day working in front of a computer, I don't want to spend my leasure time there too.
    T-Rexx
  • How radical

    Of course, Baen has been doing this for years and years:

    http://www.webscription.net

    Check out the free library. Like the dude on the corner, Baen hands out electronic (multiformat, but including HTML) samples for free, and has the sales numbers to show that it's good business. Grab some from the Free Library at either webscription or at http://www.baen.com
    Yagotta B. Kidding
  • Glad I waited

    Now my netbook will also be my e-book reader! Whoo! $250 saved! Cha-ching!

    In this economy, even a penny saved, is one earned.

    - Kc
    kcredden2
    • your netbook can be your reader right now

      ereader is available for your PC. The Gutenberg
      project has thousands of classic books online for
      free that you can read in any standard doc reader
      software.
      EyeDrMike
  • Makes sense, but...

    HTML5 with style sheets is more than expressive enough to handle anything produced now in (paper, pdf, epub, mobi) format. It's searchable, ubiquitous, and future proof. There are only two or three things holding it back for this purpose:

    1. It doesn't have DRM. With the backlash against DRM in recent years maybe that's not as important as it used to be, and content producers can learn to live without it. I'm a little skeptical but it could happen.

    2. The publisher or typesetter does not have absolute control over how the final result looks. With paper and with PDF you have total control. epub and mobi have less, and HTML has even less. Publishers and many authors really hate this. They want the content to appear the way it was intended.

    3. HTML documents are scattered into many little different pieces that have to be produced, tracked, installed, and moved together. Microsoft had a solution to this called MHT format but it never caught on outside of Redmond. Apple made something similar called webarchive. Maybe it's time to revisit the idea.
    Ed Burnette
  • Never Needed Special Reader Hardware

    While I do have special e-book reader software on my PDA or PC, I have never needed a special hardware device to read e-books. Granted, an existing browser means one less program, but the user will still have to pay for the e-book before they can access it via a browser (unless it's in the public domain). I can't understand why people act and talk as if e-books didn't exist before Sony and Amazon's reader hardware appeared in the past 2-3 years.
    bruceg@...
    • agreed

      I've used ereader on Palm, PC, and now iPhone for
      6 or 7 years. Love being able to carry a whole
      library in my pocket. 'tain't nothin new. Wasn't
      interested in a big clunky Kindle.
      EyeDrMike
  • Google Needs to 'Google' These Posts

    It's clear that most of the posts, so far, show that most of us don't too much of the idea.
    bruceg@...
    • Correction

      Sorry:

      "Don't *think* too much of the idea."
      bruceg@...
  • RE: Google challenges e-readers by taking e-books directly to browser

    The issue isn't the document presentation or format. It's whether or not there will be DigitalRightsManagment and at what cost per ebook. Can they be provided free with non-annoying adverts? Will they be copyable to another device so I can read without the net? How are Authors being compensated?
    tjason@...
  • I Love Ebooks

    I already enjoy reading ebooks on my Windows mobile smartphone at very reasonable cost. I see no need to purchase a digital reader. Check out Fictionwise.com A Barnes and Noble company!
    razrbackfan
  • what format will Google use, EPUB?

    What format will Google use I wonder, EPUB?

    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/EPUB

    Is PDF for digital editions better for graphics intensive books like technical publications and comic books?

    Google has enough money to come out with a new format I suppose.



    bearlyworking