Google Books launches in the U.S., works on Kindle's web browser

This morning, Google launched its heavily anticipated ebook store at Like its competitors, Google’s approach is to store your purchases online so that you can “buy once, read anywhere” (to steal a Kindle marketing phrase), but you can also download EPUB versions that are locked with Adobe Digital Editions DRM. However, if you own a Kindle you’re not invited to the download party, because the Kindle won’t read EPUB files.

So if you are a Kindle owner, what are you missing out on? Although I haven’t had a chance to look into it too much just yet, I did perform a cursory price check. I found one of their promoted titles for $2 less on the Kindle Store, but that’s probably going to be an exception rather than the norm, since both publishers and retailers have been cracking down on competitive discounting. In general, the prices are in line with the other major retailers like Amazon and Barnes & Noble.

Perhaps the biggest selling point of a Google Books edition is you can read it on any web browser that can handle JavaScript, which gives you a lot of flexibility when it comes to devices. Sure, Amazon has done a good job with providing Kindle apps for the biggest mobile and PC platforms, but Google Books should conceivably work with old Symbian phones from Nokia, the Opera browser on your Wii, and–hey, wait a minute!

**runs off to see if Google Books shows up on the Kindle 3’s webkit browser**

Ha, yes, Google Book’s web interface does indeed work on the Kindle, although about half of your screen is taken up by extra padding, navigation icons, and the browser menu bar. On the plus side, if you’ve always hated the Kindle’s default fonts, you have the choice of selecting from a few traditional ones on Google web ebooks.

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