Should Google Book Search Worry Amazon?

Posted Feb 6, 2009

Google Inc. (NASDAQ:GOOG) started a massive project to scan books from university libraries all over the world.  The project has been successful for the most part with the exception of facing litigation from a few publishers.   The main point of the project was to make books more accessible to people in order to level the playing field for the spread of knowledge.

Viresh Ratnakar, Guillaume Poncin, Brandon Badger, and Frances Haugen wrote on the Google Blog that one of the greatest things about iPhones and the Android is that we are able to play games and watch videos while waiting in the post office line (ironically I was doing just that last week so I can relate).  But sometimes “we year for something more.”  This is why the Google Book Search team has created  a platform that allows us to read books right from our phone.  That’s right, Google Book Search has gone mobile with over 1.5 million mobile public domain books in the U.S.

Best of all these books have been optimized to read on a small device.  This makes me question whether this was an effort to take on the Kindle directly.  After all it is rumored that Amazon has sold at least a million of those things.  By making millions of books available to anyone with a mobile device for free, why buy a Kindle?

The biggest advantage of the Kindle is that books are downloaded on the device.  The Internet is not required to read books like it is for Google Book Search.  The Kindle is ideal for use on airplanes.  I don’t know about everyone else, but I get most of my reading done when flying the friendly skies.   I think the only thing stopping me from buying the Kindle is the $359 starting price.  And when Google throws books at me for free… to go… It makes me want to buy the Kindle less.  What are your thoughts?

[via Google Book Search blog]