This Tuesday, just days after the release of Google’s new eBook store, Amazon(NASDAQ:AMZN) gave us our first glance at the new Kindle for the Web service. Seemingly meant to compete almost point for point with its new Google counterpart, Kindle for the Web will let users transcend the limitations of dedicated eReaders, and even eReading apps, to the point of opening your collection on practically any web browser on the market. We can expect to be seeing an actual release of this product, and the complete eBook access it brings with it, early next year, though in the meantime the existing service allowing Amazon customers to preview select chapters of their books will have to do.
This new web service will allow for inter-device syncing, all of the highlighting/bookmarking/annotating that you could ever want, and the ability to share your favorite passages all without ever bothering to install an app or download much more than the book you happen to be reading (which will end up in your temporary internet files to be cleaned up later anyway). It’s hard to say if this is meant to be a catch-all replacement for the many device-specific applications currently being distributed, but it will open up possibilities and, hopefully, a chance at simultaneous feature roll outs across the Kindle family.
One of the other fun additions to the product line that comes along for the ride is the ability to make pretty much any website into its own little Kindle book store. Webmasters, bloggers, and pretty much anybody with a web site should now get the chance to talk about or quote from their favorite books, link along to a purchase page for the main text, and maybe even make a little bit of money for the referral. This could be a great way for the Amazon marketing machine to send out some quick and easy connections to the web at large.
The most interesting point on which Google seems to have the edge here is the opportunities for independent authors. In addition to an easy upload program for authors, similar to what Amazon has already been doing, there are some really neat promotional tools to play with. It also has some built-in social networking. Assuming you set things in your profile to ‘public’, your friends can look through your purchases, see what you’re reading, and get a general comparison of what people are up to. It’s a new service, so of course the novelty hasn’t worn off yet, but I’m finding it to be a lot of fun so far.
If I had to make a guess at this stage, acknowledging that the Kindle for the Web service is still pretty difficult to review to any extent as it doesn’t really exist yet for us general users, I’d say that these services are pretty much equally matched. Amazon has the experience, but Google may soon have the superior selection, and may even adapt their service to be usable on Kindle devices themselves (currently you can use it on the Nook, but the Kindle‘s browser doesn’t quite cut it. We’ll know more for sure in early 2011, it seems!