Google Play Books’ new reading mode lets you browse and skim nonfiction ebooks faster

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The digital format works a lot better for some kinds of books than others. For straight-text fiction, it’s perfect — as evidenced by 2013 sales figures showing that ebooks now account for nearly 40 percent of adult fiction sales. When it comes to nonfiction, though — cookbooks, atlases, travel guides and so on — ebooks haven’t done as well.

Now [company]Google[/company] is taking a small step to change that: On Thursday the company announced a new nonfiction reading mode for its Google Play Books app. The new feature, which is only available on Android for now, “lets you easily skim an entire book, browse all your notes and highlights, and quickly jump back and forth between different spots.” So, for example, a user could jump between recipes in a cookbook “using new quick bookmarks” or use “skim mode” to browse through a travel guide.

"Skim mode" in the Google Play Books update

“Skim mode” in the Google Play Books update

It makes a lot of sense for Google to try to improve the nonfiction e-reading experience, in part because reference books have taken a serious hit due to competition from free content on the web. If Google is able to make the content in these titles more accessible online, the company could conceivably figure out a way to include portions of nonfiction titles in its search results. That could open up a new revenue stream for publishers, while also making Google search richer and better for users.

Feature photo credit: Theen … via Compfight cc

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bob

Why should an author or a publisher have anything to do with Google? They’ve hated and resented authors since they started their Google Books project. They’ve just taken what they can and ignored the authors from the beginning. They have no respect for their hard work. It’s all about padding their advertising dollars.

When they were caught and called out by the author team, they stonewalled the settlement. We still don’t have a settlement and I wouldn’t be surprised to find out that the billionaire greedsters drag it out for another ten years.

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