Google has launched a cloud-based electronic bookstore in the US, offering more than three million free and paid-for titles.
The move, which brings Google into a marketplace that includes the likes of Amazon and Apple, was announced on Monday. The Google eBookstore, formerly known as Google Editions, lets people buy ebooks they can read across a range of devices, such as laptops, tablets and smartphones. The ebooks can also be read on e-readers that support the open ePub format or Adobe's PDF format.
The Google's eBookstore will offer more than three million titles, many of them for free. Screenshot: Tom Krazit/CNET News
"In addition to a full-featured web reader, free apps for Android and Apple devices will make it possible to shop and read on the go," Google Books product manager Abraham Murray said in a blog post on Monday. "For many books you can select which font, font size, day/night reading mode and line spacing suits you — and pick up on the page where you left off when switching devices."
Google said it will launch a UK version of the eBookstore in 2011. For now, readers here can still access the company's vast library of free ebooks, many of which stem from a massive programme of digitising out-of-copyright titles.
The vast majority of the titles in the Google US eBookstore are free — Murray's post noted that, of the more than three million total, only "hundreds of thousands" come at a price. Google has also partnered with independent booksellers Powell's and Alibris, as well as "participating members of the American Booksellers Association". Purchases through all these partners end up on the same virtual bookshelf.
"Launching Google eBooks is an initial step toward giving you greater access to the vast variety of information and entertainment found in books," Murray wrote. "Our journey has just begun."
The most prominent e-reader, Amazon's Kindle, will not support the eBookstore as it does not use the ePub or PDF format. Other handheld reading rivals, such as Apple's iPad and the Nook, do support these formats.
"We'd like to have Google eBooks work across all devices," a Google spokesman said on Tuesday. "At launch it doesn't work with Kindle, but we are open to working with all device manufacturers."