Seventh Update, Tuesday March 13, 2012: Free Google Books Downloads Work Again
Sixth Update, Tuesday March 13, 2012: According to a Commenter below, who spoke to Google via phone:
I received two follow-up emails as well, the last saying “Our engineering team has identified the problem and are working to resolve it quickly. While I cannot offer you an exact timeframe as to when it will be fixed, I will email you as soon as I have an update.”
It must be some catastrophic screw-up for it to take this long to fix. As of ~8:30AM EDST, I am getting Whale Fail when I am past the CAPTCHA for a PDF download. Since so many people are coming to this blog for this post, I am going to make a separate Sticky.
Fifth Update, Monday March 12, 2012: According to a Comment below:
Just got off the phone with Google. They are aware of the issue and are working to fix it. And they confirmed that it is just an error — there are no plans to disable pdf downloads of public domain works. Good to know!
I hope that is true and it is fixed soon. This post has been gaining in popularity as others come across the problem. It seems I am the only one to post about it.
Fourth Update, Monday March 12, 2012: Google’s transition to Play has been a disaster for PDF downloads both at Play and at Google Books. Play seems to still offer PDF downloads — even the Help Center acknowledges PDF-formatted books cannot be read offline in a browser and must be downloaded! — but they are broken, just as in Google Books, with ~34K weird non-PDF files that download.
Third Update, Saturday March 10, 2012: Google Books is currently totally FUBARed. What I thought were PDF downloads turned out not to be. I didn’t check until a Commenter mentioned what he was getting. Let’s hope Google fixes this by next week. Or explains just what the hell is going on.
Second Update, Saturday March 10, 2012: This glitch hasn’t been totally resolved. Out of twenty books I’ve had on a shelf for downloading, only three worked. The rest got the Whale Fail message.
Update, Saturday March 10, 2012: Less than 24 hours later, PDF downloads work again. This might have been a temporary glitch due to the Google Play effort. However, I’m not embarrassed to be seen as absolutely wrong about this — because I want Google to understand that I am watching Google Books.
I’m waiting for someone at the near-dead Google Books Twitter account to reply (this might be a futile effort!) but right now what I’m experiencing at the public domain Google Books is not good. And I think I know Google well enough to make this post’s headline a flat statement and not a question.