In its first upgrade to the comics category, Google Play Books has unveiled new features aimed at reading and organizing digital comics and graphic novel content. The new features will launch with upgrades for the Android OS to be followed by support for iOS devices.
On Thursday the Google Play Books store introduced landscape scrolling on mobile phone and tablet screens, making it easier to read digital comics on small mobile devices. The new feature allows fans to flip their phones on the side, so the comic can be read panel-by-pane with vertical swipes on the screen.
Play Books is also adding curated series pages, designed to make it easier to locate and browse full original graphic novels, as well as periodicals published in ongoing series. Personalized comics and graphic novel recommendations are also new.
Google Play Books senior product manager Greg Hartrell said this is the first upgrade designed for comics readers. “Comics are hugely popular in the Play Book store" he said, noting that these fans can now "access twice as many pages as other Google Play Books customers.”
Although he did not break out the precise number of comics titles available via Google Play Books, Hartrell noted that the store offers over 5 million titles overall. The comics section, he said, offers both standalone graphic novels and single issues from Marvel and DC, as well as independents like Dark Horse, IDW and Image. To promote the new features, Google Play Books is offering free issues of The X-Files, Lazarus and Jem and the Holograms for the next week.
“It’s a hyper-energized audience,” Hartrell said. “And comics readers also overlap with science-fiction and fantasy categories as well as prose genres. We want to make sure we connect with the passion of comics fandom.”