Google's 'Open' E-Books? Not So Open

In fact, Amazon e-books will soon be more open
By Evann Gastaldo,  Newser Staff
Posted Dec 9, 2010 12:31 PM CST
In this screen shot the Google books website is shown.   (AP Photo/

(Newser) – Google is making quite a big deal about the "openness" of its e-books, but Farhad Manjoo has news for you: "Google's e-books are 'open' in the same way that politicians are 'bipartisan' and oil companies are 'green,'" he writes on Slate. "Open" certainly sounds good, when it comes to marketing, but there's no practical difference in buying from Google over Amazon when it comes to how much control you have over your e-library. Neither store will allow you to share or resell your books, and neither store will allow you to read your books on every device.

"In fact, Amazon's 'closed' books will soon work on more devices than Google's 'open' books," Manjoo explains. It's true that you can only read Amazon's Kindle e-books on Amazon-approved devices, but soon those devices will include basically everything except other e-readers. Google will allow you to read its books on other e-readers—but not on the Kindle. The Kindle commands about half of the market for e-readers, and this means "if you buy a book from Google, it will work just about everywhere except the Kindle. If you buy a book from Amazon, it will work just about everywhere, including the Kindle. What seems more open to you?" Click for Manjoo's complete column.

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