Thursday Google rolled out the Books section of its web-based version of the Android Market, now offering free and retail ebooks. The files can be read directly on the PC using a web browser or via the Google Books app for Android and iOS devices.
The new section can be found at the top-right of the Android Market, parked between the Android Apps shortcut and the store's search field. Clicking on the Books link pulls up a new section of the Market that showcases New York Times Bestsellers, Book Club picks, new arrivals, the top selling ebooks, the top free ebooks, books of interest (which cater to your ebook browsing habits) and more.
At first glance, the new ebook store is clean and easy to navigate, breaking down the library into categories listed on the left. Certain genres require extra effort to find such as "Horror" which is listed under the "Fiction" parent category. Science Fiction and Fantasy are listed as separate categories rather than serve as "Fiction" sub-categories.
As for pricing, Google seems on par with other online retailers like Amazon and Barnes & Noble. While looking for the ebook edition of Peter Straub's A Dark Matter, the Android Market currently sells the novel for $5.99 whereas Kindle and Nook lists it as $6.29. Stephen King's Full Dark, No Stars currently retails for $14.99 on the Android Market whereas it costs $15.43 on Nook and $14.99 on Kindle.
Given that there are dedicated apps for purchasing ebooks from Google Books, the inclusion of a Books section in the Market installed on Android devices is irrelevant and will not likely become an addition in the near future. But the launch of the Books section leads us to believe that Google may be gearing up to offer music and movies/TV in the near future, two features Apple offers via iTunes and Google does not.
Last week brought reports that Google Music may finally be heading to Android. The news arrived by way of Motorola Mobility's Sanjay Jha during Mobile World Congress. "If you look at Google Mobile services [via Android] today, there's a video service, there's a music service--that is, there will be a music service," he said.
Jha added that consumers benefit from Google's new Android 3.0 "Honeycomb" operating system--now powering Motorola's tasty new XOOM tablet-- because "it adds video services and music services."
Earlier this week, Google rolled out the new navigation toolbar stretching across the top of many Google sub-sections like the home page, Images, Gmail and numerous others. Previous reports indicated that Google's social aspect will be added to this new bar, and located next to the user name and the settings "gear" icon on the right.
"Last week we tested a new top navigation bar, which increases consistency across most of Google’s properties and is a visual update over the previous top navigation bar," the company said in a statement. "We are now rolling this new bar out widely."
Looks like Google is gearing up for an all-out attack on Apple, Facebook and other Internet entities.