Monday, December 6, 2010
Google eBooks -- is this the beginning of the end for libraries?
As you can see from this short video, Google eBooks are device independent. As they say in the movie, "Access all your ebooks wirelessly, no matter where you go. Google eBooks stores your library in the digital cloud, so you can read all of your favorite books using just about any device with an Internet connection. Google eBooks is compatible with Android phones, iPhone, iPad, iPod touch, web browsers and many supported eReaders. Whenever you open one of your books, we'll pick up right where you left off."
Google starts off with about 3 million free eBooks and hundreds of thousands of books for purchase. You download an App for the device you want to use.
I downloaded the free Web app to try it out. It took me about two seconds to download the app and apparently I was up and reading. Google creates an online "in the Cloud" personal library to which you can add books at any time. You access the eBooks by going online to Google and signing in. You can then go to Google Books under the "more" tab.
Clicking takes you to the entirely redesigned Google Books page.
On the Google Books page you click to go to the eBooks bookstore which has the 3,000,000+ free books and the trade books for sale. Any books you select or purchase are kept in your online account, so they can be accessed from any location or any device.
If you start reading a book on your computer, your iPhone or iPad app goes to the same page where you left off.
So, why do I think this presages the demise of libraries? Let's try a few genealogy or history titles. How about Genealogy as a pastime and profession by Donald Lines Jacobus for $5.51 or Val D. Greenwood's The Researcher's Guide to American Genealogy for $14.38. All available to read on my iPad or iPhone! I also found William Tanner of North Kingstown, Rhode Island, and his descendants, for free, which I paid good money for not long ago.
I don't usually have a lot of time to spend reading novels and the offerings from Apple and other online books like Project Gutenburg have been really limited, especially for technical and self-help books. It remains to be seen if Google covers that area, making the books available, it has certainly gone much further than anyone else to date. Will I need to go to the library? With FamilySearch, Ancestry.com and a variety of other sources for online books, and now a huge selection from Google, even though I have always spent time in the library, I am guessing that even I will find fewer reasons to get in my car and drive to my local library, especially with their budget attacked hours and staffing.