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

September 25, 2012
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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.

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