After what seems like years of wrangling with publishers and authors, Google has finally opened the doors to its mobile library.
The search engine behemoth has joined Amazon and Apple in the digital book class but, unlike its established contemporaries, Google is determined to open up its roster of three million titles to just about every device known to modern man. As long as you live in the Untited States, that is.
If your gadget has a web browser, or can handle the ePub or PDF formats, you'll be able to read your favourite authors wherever and whenever you wish, though its not clear whether any of the paid-for titles will be hobbled with DRM at this stage.
We would have checked it out for you but, on trying to download a premium title using a UK IP address we encountered the following:
"It looks like you're located outside of the United States. Although you're welcome to read about Google eBooks, please note that Google eBooks are only available for sale to customers in the U.S. at this time."
Google has been merrily scanning away at every book it could lay its hands on since 2004, with or without the permission of the copyright holder, and has now amassed an archive of 15 million titles in 400 different languages.
As well as a nifty web site which allows books to be read online, Google has launched apps for Apple's iOS4 gadgets and Android smart phones, although once again these are only available in the USA.
Bean counters at Forrester research reckon the eBook market will be worth close to $1 billion by the end of 2010. With everyone on the planet with access to a box of old chips trying to flog tablet devices in the run up to Christmas and beyond, it's a market which is almost certain to explode.
All the runes point to a 2011 launch for the service in the UK and the rest of Europe but Google is saying nothing at the moment.