Google eBooks launched

Google launched a new service that lets you buy and read books online: Google eBooks. Right now, you can only buy books if you are in the US, but you can read 3 million public domain books for free from any location.

Google’s goal is to create an online book shelf where you can store books bought from Google eBooks or other services. These books can be read using your computer’s browser, using mobile apps for Android and iOS devices or transfered to eReader devices that run Adobe Digital Editions.

“We designed Google eBooks to be open. Many devices are compatible with Google eBooks— everything from laptops to netbooks to tablets to smartphones to e-readers. With the new Google eBooks Web Reader, you can buy, store and read Google eBooks in the cloud. That means you can access your ebooks like you would messages in Gmail or photos in Picasa — using a free, password-protected Google account with unlimited ebooks storage,” explains Google.

Unlike Picasa photos, you can’t download DRM-free eBooks from Google to read them using other devices that aren’t currently supported (Amazon’s Kindle is an important example). Google eBooks may seem open, but it’s actually closed. For example, you can only read books offline using Google’s mobile apps and using eReaders that support Adobe’s eBook platform.