How’s Google eBooks doing so far? According to Google product manager Abraham Murray, speaking at Digit Book World yesterday, so far so good. In a talk entitled 10 Fun Facts about Google eBooks, Murray offered a few general observations about the first two months of the cloud-based program, although no solid numbers and no real surprises.
Among the tidbits Murray shared: the free Google eBooks app was installed over a million times in the first few weeks, and a new version with new features would likely be rolled out sometime in the coming months. So far, the data shows most e-book pages have been viewed via apps, but that most books are being read on the Web, which has to be nice to see when yours is a browser-based e-book model. Google, meanwhile, has also begun to parse which devices readers are reading on, and the short answer is: all of them. Murray said reader behavior has validated Google’s insistence that its service works not only in browsers, smartphones, and tablets but ePub-based e-ink reading devices. He said Google research shows that about 80% of readers own just one device other than their laptop, but some own as many as three, and for those spending $500 for a phone, $500 for a tablet, and $100 for an e-ink reader, they want to read on all of them.
As for the top Google eBook sellers, no suprises. Google eBook readers are reading what everyone else is reading, with a strikingly familiar list of bestsellers, topped by Stieg Larsson’s The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo and George W. Bush’s memoir Decision Points. But, without offering solid numbers, Murray added that early returns also showed that books in the program do “have a long tail,” with deep backlist and free public domain books also being viewed.
As for categories, romance tops the list, followed by biography, thrillers, finance, and YA books. Geographically, New York tops the list of most Google eBook reads, not a surprise given its population, followed by Seattle, which did seem to surprise Murray. The most literate city in America, meanwhile, Minneapolis, clocked in at a lowly number 10, behind Houston, Denver, and Atlanta, cities that Murray described as “punching above their weight” so far in terms of reads.
In closing, Murray suggested that early returns also showed that readers were supporting their local bookstores with Google eBook purchases, although he declined to offer any solid numbers at this early stage. But he noted that the 180 re-sellers signed up so far were doing business, noting that the success so far was “real,” and that “people are supporting their local bookstores.” It’s early, or course, but Murray, noting the dropping price points of devices, and the flood of new tablets at this year’s Consumer Electronics Show in Vegas, suggested there would be much more to report at next year’s Digital Book World.