Screensnap Tour Of Google eBookstore

Yes, I know they spell it “Google ebookstore.” The hell with that. I use “eBook” and “eBookstore” and will bludgeon them with it here.

This post is primarily for people outside of the United States, who cannot fully access Google eBookstore. It might also be of interest for people in the U.S. due to some things I point out that need fixing.

There are over twenty screensnaps after the break. Note that these were taken with Google Chrome browser. Things might look different in other browsers. Click on any image to enlarge.

Let me jump right into a search for “Larsson”:

Several things to notice:

1) There is no Advanced Search
2) There is no Sort by Price
3) There is no enumeration of search results
4) There’s a lot of extraneous results
5) Google has a new UI element: That X to clear the Search field
6) There is a Free Only filter (hooray!)

A book listing looks like this:

It’s more or less the old Google Books UI. Which is a bit frustrating. There’s so much slammed onto one screen with action below the fold too:

I won’t even go into “Related Books.” That’s Google’s headache to figure out. There’s just no telling what data they’re using to pull that list together. I wouldn’t count on it much, although in Google Books (the public domain area), it’s sometimes useful.

Unlike Amazon’s Kindle store, requesting a Sample does not offer a downloadable file. It’s all read-only in the browser via a really funky UI that owes a debt to Kobo Books.

I’m not even going to comment on the size of the cover. That’s the least of things. Let’s roll on with the rest so you can see for yourself before I butt in to comment again:

Yeah, a two-column layout with slideshow-like flanking arrows. Kobo Books does that in its Kobo and Borders desktop app. But they don’t do that funky two-column thing. Also, the Kobo/Borders app allows font size change. There is nothing like that here.

Here is how Kobo does it with its desktop app:


Back to the Google eBook. Notice the slider:

The weird thing about Samples is that they end abruptly. Unlike a Sample from Amazon for the Kindle, there is no pimping page to urge you to buy the book. Low-key selling? I don’t know. Perhaps laziness. It’s easier just to set up flag to cut off viewing a file at X-amount than it is to throw in a new page to hard sell.

Prices are competitive with other eBookstores on the non-Agency books I saw. However, Amazon is just going to keep winning.

Price on Google eBookstore:

Price on Amazon Kindle eBookstore:

And, no. That’s not the most expensive eBook I’ve seen today.

OK, now it’s time get all stabby and see what this eBookstore bleeds. Given the recent controversy Amazon’s Kindle had with a book, I plunged my knife right into the heart of things:

Notice the autocomplete/suggest. That is not the term I am going for. And when I get the search result for that term, it’s an invitation from Google to jihadists:

I wonder how long that search result will remain like that?

As I mentioned earlier, there is a Free Only filter (something every eBookstore should have!), and that brings up these results for that term:

These results are the books that have already been in Google Books. And as I noted earlier, don’t even try to begin to figure out how Google links books together:

I searched for writer Max Gunther:

Not only don’t any of these results have books by Max Gunther, I could find no reason for them to appear. This is why Advanced Search is needed, as available in Google Books. Google eBookstore does not distinguish writer names from anything else. With Advanced Search, ideally, I would have gotten zero results. Trying to make things friendly for the masses results in frustrating consequences such as this!

A good thing is that Search will accept a book’s ISBN:

What I really dislike about Google eBookstore:

By the way, everyone gets those three free eBooks to the right. Don’t bother with them. Although Google slapped fresh covers on them, inside they’re the usual Google disrepectful-of-books slop.

I dislike this shelf. Because they have also added it to my Google Books page. And guess what, kids? Others can see it too! This is the social feature:

I’ve been after a certain bookstore for the longest time to allow me to let others view my library there. But as an opt-in choice. Here, I’m not given that choice. It’s done for me. Some people don’t know the line between “social” and “privacy invasion.” You would think that after the Buzz fiasco, Google would have been educated in that.

The other thing I really, really hate is the pollution of Google Books. My “Books of Interest” shelf there is now infested with Google eBookstore listings instead of purely Google Books listings. I don’t want that. Stop it, Google!

Google Books, by the way, also has new front page:

If you’re outside the U.S., trying to use Google eBookstore will be nothing but frustration. Here are two screensnaps from Laura Fullton, accessing it in Switzerland:

Those are nothing but existing entries from Google Books. And they might not even be viewable. I’ve been surprised by people telling me they cannot view the Success: A Novel book from Google Books outside the U.S., despite it being public domain here.

And one more thing about those Google eBookstore freebies:

Since they still actually reside in Google Books, I got the damn CAPCHA!

There is no toll-free number for people to call with DRM problems. That’s just not going to fly. Problems with Adobe Digital Editions are guaranteed. What makes Google think it can’t provide true customer support?

My thinking is they expect their local Tip Jar brick & mortar bookstore “partners” to provide that kind of free human contact. Good luck with that, bookstores! You’re now in the Tech Support business. You will now hate eBooks even more, thanks to Google! Your energy will get drained away from mere survival for pennies on the dollar.

As I noted earlier, Google eBookstore requires a Google Checkout account to buy things. That leaves me out. I have no interest in adding yet another damn payment transfer service to my list of passwords to forget. I wonder how many other people will feel the same way? No one cares that you’re in competition with PayPal, Google. Swallow your damn pride and allow PayPal.

I can’t comment on how Google eBookstore works on anything other than a PC. I lack an iOS or Android device to test. But Jane Litte provided this iPhone screensnap:

That doesn’t look appealing, but I guess they’ll eventually fix what’s wrong.

I don’t see Google eBookstore doing anything other than raising the awareness of eBooks. I’m sure the mass media will be filled with articles and radio/TV coverage of it, making the buzz about eBooks even louder. I think that will send people out to buy too many of the crap devices out there so they can join in on the cheap. The last thing reading needs are bad devices to discourage it!

Given all the problems I’ve had with Google Books, it’s difficult for me to take Google eBookstore very seriously. But I realize and understand that it’s an essential part of Google’s long range plan to capture all metacontent, so they’ll pour money into it until they reach that objective. But they don’t care for books other than as raw data fodder.

Too bad print publishing never woke up when NBC and Fox stood up to Google’s YouTube to create Hulu. Then Google wouldn’t be grabbing their business like this and local bookstores — not that I give a damn about them — might have gotten a better piece of the action.


Filed under Google

2 responses to “Screensnap Tour Of Google eBookstore

  1. Pingback: Tweets that mention Screensnap Tour Of Google eBookstore « Mike Cane's xBlog --

  2. laura

    Thanks, Mike. This is very useful. Intriguing too because I am not able to reproduce some of the results aside from the obvious territorial restrictions lock-downs.

    I am not able to get the new front page (not sure what link you are using), nor am I able to get the ISBN search to work (I tried the same one you did).

    I have not used Google Books much before, so I also checked my bookshelf settings to see if the contents of my bookshelves were public. They were not. By default they seem to have been set to Private so apparently Google thinks I am more anti-social than you are!

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