For the past 18 months or so, like many of you, I've been anxiously awaiting Google's ebookstore launch. Originally referred to as Google Editions, the service finally arrived this week with the name Google eBookstore. Now that I've had some time to tour the store and download some sample content, I have one question: Why did it take this long to launch a service that offers nothing new? Seriously, I was figuring there would be some groundbreaking functionality but this is basically the Kindle's bookstore with fewer bells and whistles.
Catalog pages are pretty much what you'd expect from Google: simple and clean. But is that always a good thing? Compare the Google and Amazon catalog pages for a book I plan to start reading soon, Unbroken, by Laura Hllenbrand. The Amazon page has all the elements we've come to know and love over the years including a lengthy product description as well as customer reviews in two formats: most recent and most helpful.
The Google page has a barren look. Drop that Google catalog page into Amazon's site and it would be considered either a dud or a mistake. Amazon takes great care in determining catalog page elements and I'm convinced more content helps convert browsers into paying customers. You'd think Google would realize that a sparsely populated catalog page probably isn't a good thing. Maybe they don't appreciate the fact that buying a book generally requires a lot more thought and consideration than clicking on a search results link.
Google is really playing up their multi-platform support. You can read your Google books on pretty much any tablet, smart phone or laptop. That's a clear advantage over Apple's iBookstore but it's something Amazon has offered for quite awhile now.
Google's iPad reader app is nothing spectacular. It offers the basic functionality but nothing revolutionary. It does, however, have one pretty significant shortcoming compared to Amazon's app: there's an annoying "Loading..." message that frequently appears on screen when turning pages. It reminds me of the page-turning delays I used to encounter on my first-gen Kindle. Thankfully, I never see delays like that in the Kindle iPad app. Google, you really need to fix this irritating feature.
I figured Google's service might give me a reason to ditch Amazon but I don't see a compelling reason to change. Am I missing something?
They haven't done so yet, but maybe Google will wow me later with reader app features I can't get anywhere else. Speaking of which, this Thursday, December 16th, I'll be presenting my "econtent wish list" in a free webcast. If you're interested in joining me for the 1-hour session be sure to sign up here.