[sword-devel] Google eBooks

Chris Little chrislit at crosswire.org
Mon Dec 6 23:11:27 MST 2010

On 12/6/2010 9:34 AM, Troy A. Griffitts wrote:
> Google Books-- what in its previous incarnation became
> http://print.google.com -- has been re-issued as an an online eBook store:
> http://books.google.com/help/ebooks/overview.html
> How does this affect us, and could we build a ModDrv for the Google
> eBook format for our engine so we could be a specialized Google eBook
> reader for Biblical material?

I've been working (on and off) at making some of our material available 
for eBook readers (in mobi/Kindle and EPUB formats) as well as POD. 
Google is using EPUB, as they have been for quite a while. Outputting 
modules to EPUB docs is essentially a matter of running them through the 
*HTML(HREF) filters and adding headers/footers/interstitials. This is 
essentially the work that my Diaspora program used to do.

My own plan for converting our texts to EPUB, mobi, & PDF was to use the 
source docs, since they don't go through osis2mod, and apply some XSLT 
to generate XHTML & LaTeX.

> Any thoughts?

My general thoughts on the Google eBook store are that it has one 
significant advantage relative to Amazon & Apple, and that's their huge 
catalog of scanned PD texts, which come in the shape of PDFs. Since 
they're scanned pages (and not OCRed and reflowed), the PD works look 
great on an iPad or a computer screen. Personally, I don't want to read 
books on either of those devices. I want to read books on an E Ink 
reader, and those don't tend to be larger than 7". So all of Google's 
scanned PD ebooks will be pretty much unusable on the readers most 
people would want to use (dedicated ebook readers and smartphones) 
because the pages don't reflow, requiring scaling or scrolling. The best 
piece of hardware for Google eBooks would probably be the Kindle DX, but 
Kindles are specifically excluded from the Google store (though I 
realize that is mostly Amazon's fault).

As far as selection of non-PD material goes, I'm not terribly impressed. 
Amazon, Apple, & Google each have different sets books available, but I 
believe Amazon still leads overall. Completely unscientifically: Of the 
four books being used for the class I'm teaching in spring, three are 
available in each of the stores, but Amazon has one set of three and 
Apple & Google share a different set of three.


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