The Google ebookstore is not a serious threat to the Kindle (and why I’m not shopping there)

I decided to get a head start on all the pundits that tomorrow are going to post  stories with titles like "GE will Kill the Kindle". I'm not going to discuss the obvious format issue (I don't think it's that important). But I did find a problem. I've been looking over GE since it launched this morning, and I think it's missing a critical component.

Customer service.

This is Google's biggest failing.

I recall back when Google  were selling movies online, and what happened when they canceled the service.  Anyone who'd bought one was simply SOL. Google only reversed their position after a public outcry.

I recall when Google killed a bunch of music blogs without warning, and I recall how several never did get back online (in spite of following Google's procedures).

I recall a bunchaton of stories about owners of Google phones asking for tech help and the only response they got was a link to a FAQ (if that).

And then there is Google Books, where Google are letting claim a copyright on pd titles.

I'm looking over the GE website today, and there's no clear way to reach out to Google if you have a problem. (Okay, there is one, but it's hidden at the bottom of the page. You'll only find it if you know it's there.) Google are good at building monolithic systems, but they're not good at catching what falls through the cracks.

On the other hand, Google could prove me wrong.

About Nate Hoffelder (11481 Articles)
Nate Hoffelder is the founder and editor of The Digital Reader: "I've been into reading ebooks since forever, but I only got my first ereader in July 2007. Everything quickly spiraled out of control from there. Before I started this blog in January 2010 I covered ebooks, ebook readers, and digital publishing for about 2 years as a part of MobileRead Forums. It's a great community, and being a member is a joy. But I thought I could make something out of how I covered the news for MobileRead, so I started this blog."

7 Comments on The Google ebookstore is not a serious threat to the Kindle (and why I’m not shopping there)

  1. I agree. I won’t be buying from them. Not unless they take over every other bookstore or I find out they are super cheap compared to everyone else. I did a quick comparison and have not found them to be any cheaper.

  2. Well yes, except that GE will also act as a wholesaler. People buying google books through say Powells are likely to complain to that bookstore if anything goes wrong.

    Suspect that Google will ultimately want (most) customers buying through their supported retailers. It creates an insulating layer between them and those pesky customers.

  3. I have to agree with gous here. Google here is acting purely as a middleman. They don’t write, edit, or publish the books (publisher’s and author’s do that). They don’t make the e-readers (nook, kobo and sony do), or manage the DRM (adobe does that) and in many cases they won’t even directly handle your transaction (the independent booksellers will). Their only job is to help buyers find sellers.

    So why would you need any backend support from them?

  4. Absolutely agree, one of the biggest strengths Amazon has is their customer orientation. Though their growth over the past couple of years has been huge, they have never forgotten about that. At least I never had any problems with them, neither as a customer or affiliate. I am pretty sure that Google, because they come from a completely different end of the spectrum, will soon catch the first negative reviews and will start to struggle.

  5. I beg to differ about the format being an issue. If I can only read a book online (which is true of many books that I am interested in), that is a serious issue. If what I can view online or, in some cases, download, is nothing but a scanned image, that is a serious issue. It’s especially annoying if they are going to sell the reflowable version of a book (Irreducible Mind) for three times the price of the scanned image version. The latter is twice the price of the dead tree version. Annoying.

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