Wednesday, September 12, 2012

Reading Online: Google Play Explored

I know that today is Wednesday, which means I should be going on over to YA Highway and participating in the Road Trip with my other bloggy pals. But for some reason I just don't want to today. I must have put on my stubborn, independent pants this morning. I've been doing things "different" since I woke up. I didn't park in my normal place. I didn't get a bagel with strawberry cream cheese and a coffee after my first class. I went back to my place and...put together a bag of fruit and veggies to take to work. Wacky, I know.

I'm still in shock, too.

Anyway, I've decided to write about something I've been doing lately: reading online. I know it's not a new concept. We read online all the time, but I'm not talking about reading blog posts or doing research. A few months ago Google debuted it's new area called Play. It's like a combination between iTunes, Amazon, and a bunch of other similar things that sell stuff like movies, music, games, and ebooks. However, Google Play is something different, or so I think.

At any given time in the day, I have an Internet-capable device on or near my person, whether it be iPhone, iPad, or laptop. Sometimes all three (like right now). And as it so happens, I find myself with pockets of free time that can't be spent doing something other than sitting quietly and waiting. Or as has been the case most recently, reading online.

So far, so good.
I call these times my Page Snatches. I don't have time to read much, maybe just a page or two, or if I'm lucky or very early to class or all alone in the lab, I can read maybe a chapter or two before being interrupted. So, I've been Page Snatching my way through From The Two Rivers: The Eye of the World by Robert Jordan. Google Play had a special on it a few months ago, and I got it for .99 cents. Score!

I've also appropriated a collection of classics such as Vanity Fair, The Sea-wolf, The Prince, Call of the Wild, and A Little Princess. All are free. Of course, getting classic ebooks for free is not a new concept either. There are, in fact, apps for that. So it is expected that Google Play would do the same and provide that service to readers.

But wait, there's more. You can also download the books you buy from Google Play and transfer them to your device. That's right. Not only are your books available online at any time, but you can also download a transferable copy. Theoretically, you could "share" this copy with friends, an option that other booksellers and their requisite devices do not allow. The one exception is Barnes & Noble's Nook, which allows you to Lend a copy of a book (that is earmarked for Lending and not all are) to a friend for two weeks, but you can only do that once per book.

Copyright and Digital Rights Management (DRM) are important, and I would not deny any author his or her dues. Do NOT pirate books for your own profit or to just "share" with all your friends. It's an awful thing to do. (Despite the fact that you can share paperback and hardcover books as much as you want, but I digress.) Intellectual property is something I hold very dear and near to my heart. But I'm not going down the road of discussion on DRM. Too messy. 

Amazon offers the Kindle Owner's Lending Library, but you have to be an Amazon Prime member, which costs $79 annually. There are two catches: you must have a Kindle to borrow and you can only borrow one book per month. Amazon gives Prime members a bunch of other services in addition to the lending library, but those features don't have anything to do with books so I won't go into them. (I got the Prime membership free trial for free two-day shipping. I need to remind myself to cancel it so I don't get charged the fee...)
Readers that work with Google Play.

Unfortunately, if you're a Kindle user, Google Play books are not currently compatible with your device. This is (likely) because of the rivalry between the big players, Google and Amazon. But the fact that Google Play books can be transferred to multiple other devices as well as read online is quite impressive. All you need is the Adobe Digital Editions download and you're good to go.  Or the capability to use a web browser to read online.

So even if you do purchase your books from Amazon via a Kindle device, if it's a Kindle Fire you should be able to read Google Play books regardless of compatibility issues, if you have a web browser.

Well, this post has succeeded in growing beyond my expectations or intentions. Hopefully it makes sense and stuff.

Until next time...

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