Google eBooks: Don’t Freak Out…

As everyone with an interest in the written word likely knows by now, Google announced the launch of their own eBook reader and bookstore yesterday. From a user perspective, it seems pretty awesome to be able to read your books from anywhere on various devices with no hassle. Since the content lives in the cloud, you can access it from anywhere just like your handy Google docs and gmail and calendar and so on.

Initially, I was concerned about the implication for libraries specifically, but since I have had a chance to peruse the fine print of the terms of use, it seems that Google leaves the restrictions up to the publishers. So, the same publishers that restrict library lending of current eBook titles will likely be the same ones that will be restricted on this platform. Public domain is public domain. Rights are managed via DRM.

And, this endeavor seems to do a lot for independent bookstores like the fantastic Powell’s in Portland. So I am not freaking out. I am still not an eBook convert personally, but I can see how this type of digital progression will provide benefits not only for independent bookstores, but also academic and other small publishers. This could get interesting.

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