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)