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Google eBooks launches

December 6th, 2010 by Chris Strauber

Google has finally launched the ebook service it had scheduled for earlier this year. Based on its Google Books program, the new bookstore contains about 3 million titles, most of which are out-of-copyright titles from their scanning project. Initial reports are that there are about 300,000 current titles available. There are two interesting things about this for scholarly purposes:

1) Major scholarly publishers like Oxford and Elsevier are making titles available this way.

2) The service doesn’t require you to download anything, or to have a particular device to use it. If you want to download the file you can use it on a Sony Reader or a Barnes and Noble Nook, but anything with a web browser should be able use it: computers, laptops, netbooks, simple cell phones. (I’ll report on whether it works through the Kindle’s experimental browser–it should).

Prices for scholarly titles are sort of horrifying in some cases. Ground Warfare: An International Encyclopedia lists for $236, a solid 25% off the list price of $295. Other titles, like Enrico Dandolo and the Rise of Venice, are a more modest $14.85, 50% off. As always, check with us first: we have the second and can get the first by interlibrary loan….

Update: Google ebooks are a little clunky, but entirely readable through the Kindle’s experimental web browser. It’s annoying enough that I think it would be easier to convert the files to Kindle format, but it *does* work. (12/13/2010/CS)

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