Books Galore Over a million public domain books are available in EPUB and PDF formats, thanks to Google Books. Sony should be happy; it’s newest Reader Daily Edition supports the EPUB format (PDF too). You can now download them. All. Don’t have an ebook reader? Don’t worry, you can use your computer too. I had to check it out.
Can’t Beat Free I went to Google Books, typed in “LCD” (of course!) and found something that piqued my interest: Flat Panel Displays: Advanced Organic Materials by Stephen M. Kelly. I was curious how much this free book would cost if I wanted to purchase it to have and to hold. On Amazon it goes for a US$179. Wow. No wonder Amazon is with the Open Book Alliance and vehemently against Google’s settlement with book publishers and authors that gives Google the right to digitize orphan works and now out-of-print but non-public domain books. Microsoft and Yahoo don’t like what Google is doing either. Who would buy a $179 book if you can get it for absolutely free?
Average Quality This is a small excerpt from page 5 of Flat Panel Displays. As you can see Google has done a decent job of scanning and applying OCR so it is searchable. But there is a problem, I think. Try reading a book or just a chapter that looks like this. I don’t think you’ll like it or even stand it. Maybe it will look better on an E Ink display on a Reader Daily Edition or a Kindle but it does not look very inviting on my MacBook LCD. On the other hand, the books that are available on Overdrive.com look fantastic. It uses Adobe’s Digital Editions program and limits the time you can read it and limits the number of pages you can print out–quite reasonable in my mind.
For Study Google Books will certainly be diligently used by students from elementary through grad schools whose primary purpose is to study. People who enjoy reading for the simple pleasure of reading will probably stay away since the act of reading the less-than-ideal scan for many hours will require frequent visits to your optometrist. With no restrictions on the number of downloads, no time restrictions, no print limits, etc. Google Books will become a magnet to those who require studying on a budget.