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Amazon pursues Google eBooks onto the Web

Amazon announced Tuesday that its Kindle e-reader will have a Web-based application in the works, expected to be available to consumers "in the coming months." The news comes, of course, just one day after Google launched its eBooks venture, selling books directly to consumers that can be read anywhere: on smart phones, tablets, and, yes, Web browsers.

On our Technology Blog, David Sarno writes:

It's no surprise that the announcement takes sharp aim at the one feature that distinguished Google from the other electronic booksellers: the ability to read in a browser. 

Amazon is clearly looking to take some of the shine off of Google's new bookstore. The heart of Google's claim Monday was that its e-book platform was not tied to any device: Its books can be read on a variety of smart phones, e-ink readers, tablets and PCs. But Amazon's books can already be read on most of those devices, including Apple's iPhone, iPod and iPad and Google-powered Android tablets and phones. Now that Amazon is about to have a Web interface, it's just about caught up to Google in terms of the spectrum of devices with which it works.

While Sarno writes that this looks a bit like the VHS-versus-Beta showdown, I think it's a little different. That's a war of two entirely different formats -- and yes, it seems like a Kindle versus other e-readers seems to fit the model.

But now, Amazon is announcing that it's moving directly into Google's territory by (someday) making its Kindle ebooks less device-dependent. If ebooks bought either from Google's eBooks or from Amazon can be read in a browser, the conflict is different. It then will become more of a matter of brand choice -- like McDonald's or Burger King, Coke or Pepsi. Should you pick up that ebook from Amazon or Google or Apple? The choice may soon be yours.

-- Carolyn Kellogg

Photo: Amazon. Credit: Joshua Lott / Bloomberg
Photo: Google. Credit: Daniel Deme / EPA

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I tried Google Books on both the Galaxy Tab (Android 2.2 os) and iPhone 4 (Apple 4.2 ios) and the text cuts off in the middle of a sentence with paragraphs left to go at the end of a chapter. Google has work to do before they are a serious competitor to the Amazon Kindle e-reader. Nobody wants to be left hanging at the end of a chapter.


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