New Google Play Books update lets you look up words, highlight passages

by: ŠtefanSeptember 25, 2012
23 22

Google’s just announced a new update to their Google Play Books application that finally makes it somewhat comparable to the competition. Starting today, people who buy books from the Google Play Store will be able to define words, which comes in handy when you’re reading about a complicated topic; see places on a map, so say for example you’re reading something about Mali, you can finally see where that is; and best of all you’ll now be able to highlight and scribble in the margins, just like you’d do in a real book.

Does this mean you should start buying books from the Google Play Store? Probably not. Google has roughly 4 million titles available, but most of those are from the public domain. Amazon not only has a better selection, but you can read your books on multiple devices, including your non-Android powered hardware. We know many of you have an Android smartphone in your pocket, but an Apple iPad in your book bag. It’s OK, we understand. Amazon’s also had everything Google’s just announced today for at least a few years now.

If you’re an avid reader, do yourself a favor and go with Amazon’s ecosystem. It’s not that there’s anything wrong with Google’s ecosystem per say, it’s just that Amazon’s been at this whole books thing since before Google was even founded. They have the relationships with the publishers, they have have the relationships with the authors, and they’ve simply got the best game in town.

And hey, let’s also not forget that chances are you live near an incredibly well stocked library. Go give that place a visit. Hang out with some actual humans, flip through books you would have never even bothered to click online, and support your local community. It may seem old fashioned, but libraries are where many voracious readers picked up their habit.

Update: Google actually does have a Google Play Books app in the Apple App Store.

  • CJ Holder

    You need to rewrite this article, Google has the largest library of books in the world, over 20 million, and they have apps for iOS users to read Google Play Books too. Google has been collecting eBooks since 2004 and plan to have 120,000,000 books available in 2020. Currently they have 20,000,000, Amazon only have a larger selection of free books.

    • Stefan Constantinescu

      If you source those stats, I’ll gladly modify my article. Here’s a direct quote from Google’s own blog post:

      “Google Play Books enables you to read more than *4 million books* on the go, and it’s available in the U.S., Canada, Australia, Germany, Spain, Italy, France, Korea and Japan.”

      • CJ Holder

        I didn’t say you could read all 20million, however they’ve scanned 20,000,000 (according to wikipedia, not the most reliable source of information, I know), I should have been more clear on that, sorry. Having said this, Google still offer more than Amazons “Over One Million Books”. I just thought this was a bit biased and the quality of the article isn’t as good as some of your other work.

        • Stefan Constantinescu

          Would you have said that if I recommended Google Play Books over Amazon? ;-)

          • CJ Holder

            Yes since I use both kindle and Google Play, like I said, Amazon have better free books. :)

  • I have found that the Google book reader will look up words, but seems less likely to display a definition than the Kindle app. I just finished a book on French cooking and would have loved the definitions capability. When I went back to check some words, it was about 50/50 on actually displaying a definition. The Kindle app has a built in dictionary, while the google reader seems to, well, google the words.