Google has always been a major contender in the eBook format battle, but until now, it hasn’t contributed its wealth of digitized public domain books to a specific side of the battle. Now Google has definitely taken a side, and it’s versus Amazon.
Though ePub is not necessarily without DRM, Google’s offerings will have no restrictions. One of the biggest drives towards ePub is that it is not locked to a specific device, so unlike those Kindle books you’d love to swap with friends, ePub-formatted books are easily distributed. This philosophy goes well with Sony’s pairing with libraries to establish a “loaning system” wherein customers can check out books for their Sony Readers from the New York City Public Library (with inevitably more libraries to come) for 21 days.
Google’s sly slip into formatting comes just days after Amazon announced it would join ranks with the Open Book Alliance — along with Microsoft and Yahoo — to contend the Google Book settlement. The Open Book Alliance has a beef with Google’s possible infringement of copyrights, but because today’s offerings are all public domain, and readily available on the Web, Google is exempt from a wrist-slapping.
Now I’ll be waiting for Google to produce its own eBook reader device, something that would surely escalate the format battle into an all-out war.