Google has launched its Google eBooks service (formerly Google Editions) and the reviews are pouring in. Here are some select excerpts from the Publishers Weekly article:

On inventory:

Google eBooks is offering access to more than 2 million free public domain digital titles and hundreds of thousands of for-pay e-books—the exact figure is hard to pinpoint—giving the service an inventory of e-book content equal or at least potentially equal to Amazon.com’s more than 700,000 e-book titles.  In addition, Google eBooks is partnering with independent bookstores and consumers can buy e-books through local stores that have signed on to offer titles through Google eBooks.


On reading software:

Now, the Google e-reader doesn’t offer a lot of functionality considered basic to e-reading software, most of which are available on Amazon’s Kindle reading software or other readers. Among the functions not available through the Google books reader: no landscape/horizontal reading for small devices (kind of a drag), no book marking (although the software does automatically mark the furthest page read and synchs that page across all your reading devices), no note taking (available on the Kindle) and no dictionary or highlighting. Truth be told the Google reader seems kind of vanilla when compared with the Kindle software and downright primitive compared to something like Apple's iBooks reader.


Pricing:

Pricing seemed broad—I also bought The Autobiography of Mark Twain for $12.99 though Google eBooks—and I compared e-book prices offered through two indie bookstores in the Google eBooks program. Logging on through Word, a Brooklyn indie bookstore, I compared their e-books prices (retailers can set their own prices—either raise the prices to add margin or sell below it). At Word Baraka’s Home was $15 although Smith’s Just Kids was priced the same as Google eBooks at $9.99; the Twain autobiography, however, was priced at $28.00 (it was $23.80 through Portland, Oregon’s Powells Bookstore, another Google eBooks member-store). So, while indie bookstores have a presence on Google e-books, it’s going to be a tough sell if their prices are wildly inflated beyond the basic Google eBook price.


Read the full article here.