Google Books Adds New Features

Jun 19, 2009

booksAlthough Google Books may still face government scrutiny over its author settlement, the service is forging ahead with new features—lots of new features. (Think they’re gearing up for something?)

Google is still hard at work organizing the world’s information and making it accessible—they’ve improved everything from their in-book search tool to the book overview pages, from table-of-contents navigation to thumbnail page views. And probably biggest of all, they’ve added a new embed feature:

(You know you need more F. Scott in your life.)

To better navigate within these books, Google is offering everything from plain text versions of the text (well, OCRed versions) to thumbnail views of all pages. They’ve also added a pull-down menu with the book’s table of contents for faster navigation. And they’ve made the page-by-page navigation faster and easier to use with page turning buttons and better animation. Finally, they’ve improved their in-book search to show larger context snippets.

Whew! With the eBook/eReader market poised to grow, and with Google already saying that they’re gunning for the eBook market, it seems apparent that this step is headed in that direction.

Google would still have to contend with established eBook retailers like Amazon (selling to the Kindle), and work on compatibility with eInk eBook readers like the Kindle and the Sony Reader. But with this kind of upgrade, they may be ready to take on Amazon in the smartphone (especially iPhone) arena.

What do you think? Does Google Books still have a long way to go before it’s eBook ready? Or should they stop while they’re ahead?

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