Google’s eBooks initiative debuted today and has already made it into Twitter’s trending topics, showing how the promise of device-agnostic e-books captures the imagination of the reading public.
The store launched with more than three million titles from 4,000 publishers, any of which can be read from a browser, e-reader or mobile device. The books live in the cloud and open up to the last page read when accessed from any device.
This massive searchable library of e-books is Google’s gift to readers and makers of less popular devices, two groups that profit when content becomes more widely-available.
But Google is challenging the current leading e-bookstores — Apple and Amazon — on two levels. The first is old-fashioned market competition, because the portability of books means users won’t be as dependent on the iPad or the Kindle.
The second is principle: Google is establishing itself as the fragmenter. The open e-bookstore, just launched and already one of the largest, is remniscient of Google’s foray into smartphones. Instead of introducing a device to compete with the iPhone — which was only available to people who could afford a significant chunk of cash to buy into Apple’s strictly-regulated universe — Google released an open source mobile operating system so that anyone could introduce a device to compete with the iPhone. In less than a year, Android went from last place to market leader.
ajeffries [at] observer.com | @adrjeffries