We have to say that we expected more from Google Editions, or, Google eBooks. First, let us show you what Google says about it.
Here are the problems with Google Editions:
1. Who ever said that the browser, as it is now, is the best way to read extensively? The browser was never designed to replace the book, which is a piece of technology that has been honed for the last 600 years for reading. Apart from the type of screen that is used, and its effects on the eyes, other problems exist. We will mention these other problems further on. Google could have at least supplied a plugin to add some of these features. The browser does not display much text per page. It can be slow to redraw as you go on to the next page. There is no built in way to have several pages of the book open without opening new windows of the browser.
2. It is not text. As far as we can see, there is no way to highlight the text, or copy it, even in small amounts. It is true that you can search the book, but it looks to be a picture of the page rather than text. We are not sure.
3. Availability is not universal for all devices. Some books, are only available for the web reader. This is implied when Google states, "If you plan on using a eReader, you should learn more about the available ePub and PDF file formats."
4. Some books are scanned, some are text, some are both scanned and text.
Some ebooks are offered with flowing text or original scanned pages, or both. Google eBooks with flowing text allow for better control over your reading experience, such as the ability to easily adjust the font size, line spacing and paragraph alignment. Other ebooks with original scanned pages contain text that does not adjust to the different screen sizes of your reading devices. Many Google eBooks offer both flowing text and scanned pages options, and you can easily switch between the two formats within your reader settings. Any ebook that only comes with scanned pages will display an alert message ("Better for larger screens") before you purchase or get the ebook.
5. There is no way to bookmark a page on the web reader. This is a critical missing feature if, like most serious readers, you are reading more than one book at a time. There is also no stated way to sync your books across devices so you can pick up reading in one device where you left of in another.
6. There is no way to annotate or highlight portions of a book on the web reader. This feature is essential for research in the 21st century. Apple, Barnes & Nobles and Amazon all have this feature. We use it extensively.
7. Google Editions is not universal. It does not run on the Amazon Kindle, for instance. The list of supported devices is here. Amazon has been criticized by many for not using ePub file format for eBooks. There is a reason for this, the ePub format is very sparse and does not have built in support for a lot of features. This means that an ePub book when loaded on a particular device, may not support those additional features. Amazon chose their own file format so they would not be slowed down by a universal adoption of new ePub formats.
You may wonder what the difference is between Google Editions and the older Google Books. Here is the answer:
Google Books strives to provide information about print books in a way that's accessible to digital users for free. This includes bibliographic information, some limited previews, and full view of public domain worship. Google eBooks are made available for sale by their publishers. Just as with Google Books, you can preview a limited number of pages. However, if you like what you see, you have the option to purchase a digital copy of the work, which you can then view in full on most Internet-enabled devices, or even download.