Tuesday, April 26, 2011

Forget your troubles, c’mon get appy

For many lovers of neighborhood bookstores, the digital frontier can be a little guilt inducing. How do you shop locally when you want to download electronically? How do you support your beloved local bookseller when you want to read a whole mess of books on a vacation on your tablet?

Well, the answer is simple. As with everything else, we turn to Google.

Google eBooks is a relatively new feature that allows indie bookstores to sell electronic books for a variety of reading devices. Go on a buying bender, and don't worry your pretty little head about where you'll save all those digital files. Google eBooks will store your library in the cloud. All you need is an Internet connection.

What else does it mean for storage in the cloud? You’ll never run out of shelf space since “the cloud” gives you unlimited room. You don’t lose your entire library if you leave your tablet in the seat back in front of you on that American Airlines flight from San Francisco to Chicago. (It happens!) And if you change devices, eBooks allows you to pick up where you left off: Bookmark positions are saved across devices, so you can move from phone to iPad to laptop without losing your place.

To test Google eBooks out, I went to the website of my local indie bookstore, 57th Street Books in Chicago. They featured the Google eBooks tool prominently on their homepage, and the steps I needed to follow were clearly laid out.

I queued up the Newbery Honor winner Habibi by Naomi Shihab Nye for my daughter and a few books on Irish history for me. We have an iPad, so once I made my online purchase from 57th Street Books, I downloaded the Google Books app for free. Nice. When the book opened up, it looked great and was simple to use. I was off and reading.

Most e-readers (Sony Reader, the Nook) will be able to go this route, with the exception of Amazon’s Kindle. For a list of devices that support Google ebooks, check out this site.

A few hiccups to keep in mind:

You’ll have to use a Google email account, so if you already use Gmail, you’re golden. If you do not, setting up a Gmail account is free and easy. But it’s another password to remember. Also, the publishing world is still catching up with the technology, so I had to search long and hard to find titles to download.

Obviously, that’s going to change.

For a list of participating bookstores, check out Indiebound’s website.


  1. Yes! My bookstore is on the list. Thanks for spelling this all out, Kate.
    I just couldn't understand how it worked before. I am dropping big hints for an iPad for Mother's Day.

  2. Very cool, so glad the local/independent bookstores can participate in the new world of e-books.