In December 2010 Google finally launched Google eBooks (formerly known as Google Editions!), however it was only available in the USA.  Today the Google eBooks service arrives in the UK.  (Don't get eBooks confused with Google Books, which is a separate project indexing million of books for searching).

Most people are by now familiar with the concept of the electronic book -- buy; download; read on a variety of devices.  The Google eBooks project is perhaps a little different in that it stores all your books in the cloud meaning you have access to your books from anywhere and it is always in sync.  So if you start reading your book on one device and later move to another it will return to where you were reading.  You can of course download a book to a device for off-line reading.

Google claim to have "millions of books available", and boldly state "you have access to the world's largest selection of ebooks", this from their website.  However in a press release they say "Readers in the UK now have access to the world's largest e-books collection, with hundreds of thousands of e-books for sale -- from major UK publishers", which is fewer than millions!

eBooks can be read using a web browser on a PC or Apple Mac; a host of Android devices; the App for iPhone/iPod/iPad and also an iriver Story HD eReader (never heard of it!).

I decided to take a quick look at availability and price across a few vendors -- I searched Apple iBooks, Amazon, Kobo Books, Tesco, WHSmiths and Google eBooks.  In the ten random books I looked for I found three books only available in paper (no ebooks).  Of the remaining seven, six were in all eStores for the same price and one was slightly cheaper in Kobo Books.

This is just a small sample, and I fully appreciate that if you check around on specific books you can often get a deal from one vendor if the book is in a promotion.

What always amazes me with ebooks is the price -- one would assume production and distribution costs are far less, therefore the cost of an eBook should be reflective of that.  In all the above cases I could get the paper books in several cases 50% cheaper in paper format.  (Example, the eBook was £11.99 on all eBook Stores; on Amazon, Tesco and WHSmith it was around £5 for the paper version).  I have always had great difficulty understanding the logic on eBook pricing!

Amazon now sell more eBooks than paper so why are we not seeing more realistic pricing?  Greed from the publishers?

What are your thoughts?  Do you use eBooks?

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