Can Amazon's bookstore stand up to the might that is Google?

Google eBooksAmazon Kindle app

Google Books, or Amazon Kindle. That's the question du jour. Google this week released its online bookstore -- Google Books, or eBooks. It's not a new premise, you go online and buy books, and then read them on your laptop or PC, or on a mobile device. And you have plenty of options in the mobile space. You can purchase and read books on Android devices, of course, as well as the iPad, iPhone, Sony eReader and the Barnes & Noble Nook.

But is Google Books better than Amazon Kindle, the big daddy in the space? Will you need both platforms? Join us after the break as we take a look at Google Books versus Amazon Kindle?

Reading on the desktop

Don't take this for granted. There are plenty of times where you might want to read a book on a desktop. And both Google Books and Amazon Kindle will let you do that. Google Books can be read in the browser, Amazon Kindle is a standalone application.

Reading on a mobile device

On Android, iOS, Sony eReader or the BN Nook, this is where you'll likely be doing most of your reader. We took Google Books and Amazon Kindle head to head on a Samsung Galaxy Tab.

Amazon's ahead, for now

For us, it comes down to one simple fact: If you're flipping through hundreds of pages in a digital book, there can not be any lag. None. Zero. Nada. Doesn't matter if it's stored on the device, or if it's downloaded from the cloud as you read. If there's any lag at all, it's a deal-breaker.

That's not to say that Google Books aren't good. They are. And being able to see the scanned page is interesting, if not useful. We'll need to revisit this after a few months and see how Google's improved things. But for now, Amazon's still on top.

 
There are 41 comments

mikehoff99 says:

Good...I just got the Kindle for my son for Christmas...

uansari1 says:

Is there any difference in the price of books on Google Books vs Amazon Kindle?

icebike says:

Not much difference in price. The Agency model pretty much did away with retail price differences. A new release best seller is going to be just about the same price everywhere.

Easily.

johnny99 says:

My public library loans out e-books. Kindle is too locked down to read these. No Kindle for me.

icebike says:

You might be interested in Overdrive Media Console in the Market.
Direct borrowing from your Library on your Android.

ARich91 says:

Does anyone know of any apps for Androidthat support chapters in .pdf files? I have my school books in that form, and it would be nice to have something that lets me get to specific chapters when using my Android tablet instead of lugging around multiple 1000+ page books.

Adobe Reader. It's free in the market.

ARich91 says:

Abobe reader doesn't let me skip to specific chapters

p4trickh#IM says:

Check out Aldiko: http://www.appbrain.com/app/aldiko-book-reader/com.aldiko.android

They've got a free and a pro version and I own the Pro version and it does support PDF, not sure if the free one does but it's well worth the money. Great UI and plenty of features.

ilyaamex says:

Did you do this on your lunch break? How could you leave out kindles ability to highlight text, make notes and search fragments of the text in book, wikipedia or dictionary.com.

ben dover says:

that's what I was about to post.

I use notes and highlights a lot in my kindle app and there is no option for this in ebooks. I like google's open standard better but I can't fully switch until I can have everything the kindle app currently offers

ilyaamex says:

Exactly. To me this is the main reason kindle wins.

No need to be rude, as apparently that causes you to forget about punctuation and capitalization. But you're right. Those are important features. But more important to us is the absence of lag, first and foremost.

And FTR, We don't get lunch breaks.

p4trickh#IM says:

Also I think you'll fine the average reader doesn't really care about notes or search. We just want to read, period. Lag is definitely a killer, it's why I got rid of my original nook. Hopefully though Google Books will improve over time as I'd much rather use a more open solution like this. Thanks for the great review Phil.

ilyaamex says:

I apologize for my rudeness.

icebike says:

Phil:

Did you miss the Blue Push-pin thingie in Manage your ebooks portion of the Google Books?

It causes the entire book to be downloaded, so that you have no lag.

You mean the pins I pointed out in the second video? Nope. Didn't miss them.

eahinrichsen says:

I don't like to read ebooks on a smartphone or tablet. The Kindle device's e-ink screen is so much more natural and comfortable reading experience for me.

Mike77 says:

Backlit screens will hurt your eyes, specially if you spenmd all day on a computer at work. Have a sony reader now, prob getting a kindle the reader type screens are what you need.

Ytaay says:

black background + white text + low brightness = FTW :)

jaykingofgay says:

"hurt" implies injury, and that's simply not true.

You may experience "eye strain" which is not pleasant, but looking at a screen will not injure you. You get the equivalent of an "eye headache" which will pass.

The bigger issue is that backlit screens keep your brain awake, so you're more likely to be up all night reading with a backlit screen and having trouble getting to sleep than with an e-paper screen.

shibumi says:

Why wasn't the Nook app (and Barnes & Noble) included here? Isn't the Nook color (and their app) the only one that currently supports magazines with their full color photos and layouts (on the Nook color and via their app on ipad and pc for now)?

icebike says:

Not to mention Overdrive Media Console Android edition for borrowing books directly from the library. Free in the market.

madsere says:

No. The Nook has a small color display used to display the image of the book, but the main reading area is still B&W eink.

E_man says:

No sideloading books on either? Aldiko still wins for me then.

phrozen087 says:

I was about to ask if it had sideloading, but I take it that is doesn't. That is a huge dealbreaker for me as I have most of my books in ePUB format to toss them around between PCs and readers. Guess I'll be sticking with Aldiko also.

mishler77 says:

Umm... I've sideloaded tons of books on my Kindle. Calibre (free download) turns EPub's into Kindle compatible files. It even recognizes my Kindle and syncs. Easy.

elemental says:

My wife has a Nook, I have a Kindle, and I "test drove" Editions, errr Google eBooks yesterday.

I can't see beyond the eInk that the Kindle has. Nook VS Kindle and the Kindle wins, hands down every time. Kindle VS a backlit screen, and the Kindle wins, hands down every time.

The only drawback to the Android Kindle App is the backlit menu buttons when reading fullscreen, but there's an app to block that if you're rooted.

I can't speak for the other 72 eReaders on the market, but from my perspective the Kindle wins everytime. I struggle with yet another introduction into the eBook market, and certainly don't plan on purchasing a Google eBook.... that is until it can be used on my Kindle?

Good quick review Phil.

Menno says:

You have Cryptonomicon on your list. This is awesome. Thought I would have to add that

popartist says:

If Google Books is a download-as-you-go kind of thing then it's not really practical for New Yorkers like me, who would be doing a lot of their book reading during their subway commute, without wifi or a phone signal.

icebike says:

You were misled the article's wording.

You can Pin (see second video) a book onto the device which will cause it to download the entire thing and save it locally.

kronium says:

Having downloaded books to both readers, Google Books turns pages faster than Kindle on my Evo. Google also has cheaper books, when compared to the ones I have downloaded so far.

arwild01 says:

Personally, I see this as a huge win for the nook (and validates my decision to pick up the WiFI only one for $99 at a Best Buy Black Friday sale).

I can now get ebooks for my nook from B&N, Overdrive (ePub library checkouts) and Google... and all of those same books are also viewable on my Android phone.

bobaka says:

"any lag at all" ?

please... i just dont buy it

and in any case lag is entirely dependent on
device and connection

patrixl says:

For me it's simple: Google Books only available in Canada, therefore, Kindle/Nook/Laputa/etc for me.

Same as Amazon MP3.. Not available in Canada, so iTunes Store for me.

bcswartz says:

You know, if you buy a book from Google Books, you CAN download it as an ePub and use a program like Adobe Digital Editions (free) to copy it over to a reader that supports ePub, like the Nook and Nook Color.

So you don't have to leave your Google Book in the cloud.

Turncoat says:

The best conversion app out there is Calibre. Easily convert ePub to (for example) kindle formats and send it to the device straight away.

MsGadget13 says:

I currently read .pdb books from Fictionwise, owned by B&N, previously PeanutPress, linked to credit card. 10 yrs or so, 100's of ebooks.

Will Calibre convert these? Will they show up in the "bookshelf" so I don't duplicate purchases?

btruax says:

I would love to see an updated version of this article - BATTLE OF THE E-READER APPS!