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Remember earlier this month when I revealed that Google was considering ebook rentals and all of a sudden preferred to accept Epub3? Google has just announced (via the livestreaming event going on right now) that they plan to roll out a new textbook section in Google Play Books. There aren't any specific details on which titles will be available, but Google did say that they had teamed up with 5 major textbook publishers to offer a “comprehensive selection of titles”.
The new ebooks are going to be available in the Google Play Books apps for Android, iPad, and iPhone as well as on the web. So Google is getting into textbooks, and now that they accept Epub3 they are probably going for the fancy-shmancy textbooks as well.
You see, Google Play already has a textbook section; they just don't have very many textbooks in it.
While there are some reference books and actual textbooks from publishers like O'Reilly, many of the titles in that section aren't actually textbooks. Today's news could be a sign that Google plans to offer better support for textbook buying, but I could be reading too much into it. Update: A trip to the Internet Archive's Wayback Machine showed me that the textbook section was not listed in Google Play in July 2012 (that's the last time that Google Play Books was indexed). Recent CommentsMike Hall on Amazon Confirms Fire Tablet De-Registration Problem – Also, How To Protect YourselfSorry, my mistake, getting confused with my other tablet. Please Donate or SubscribeThis blog is largely funded by advertising and affiliate fees, but donations will always be gratefully accepted. Many colleges are going to start classes in the next few weeks, and Google is ready for them.
The Android app doesn't appear to have been updated with the rental textbook support yet, though that feature might have been quietly added weeks ago. On a related note, the textbook section of Google Play Books now appears to be entirely populated by textbooks, and a brief perusal revealed that the hundreds of technical and reference titles which Google tossed into the textbook section when it was announced several weeks ago have been removed. Google is now selling ebooks in 27 countries around the world, including Russia, India, US, South Korea, and most of western Europe. Does Google have a good way to keep those textbooks from being pirated during the rental period?
Text to speech is a useful feature, but it's actually pretty rare in Android reading apps. The paid version of Mantano offers text to speech, but it doesn't work consistently so I wouldn't bother buying the app to test it.
I had trouble finding the TTS feature on this app (the second pop up menu didn't appear until after a long-long press and hold).
I went back and added this app at the suggestion of a reader and because it supports office formats not supported by the other apps mentioned above. Text to speech wouldn't be my first choice for consuming long form articles saved in Instapaper, but the option does exist and it worked well enough. Pocket's support for TTS worked okay, but now that I have tried both it and Instapaper I think the latter worked better. Now that I have tried all 7 apps,I'd have to say that my first choice is Google Play Books. If I were in the mood to pay for the apps (again), I'd probably get Moon+ Reader and ezPDF.

The Kindle app for Android has very good support for TalkBack, in my experience, and that support is better than that of most of the apps that support TTS.
It is a little surprising that Acrobat DC for Android doesn’t support accessibility well, after all this time (I thought it used to, but now it is broken). Book management in FBreader is flexible with choice of local folders, Calibre Library, netwirk catalogs. Not sure if I’m missing something, but I could not load any of my existing books that reside on my SD Card into Google Play Books. The trick with Google is that you have to first upload an ebook to your Google Play Books account before you can use the app to read it. The more ambitious of the two patents involves a physical book embedded with motion and pressure sensors in its pages. Google Inc retook the offensive against thousands of authors claiming it copied their works without permission, and urged the end of a class-action lawsuit arising from its ambitious plan to build the world’s largest digital book library. Google has said it has scanned more than 20 million books, and posted English-language snippets of more than 4 million, since agreeing in 2004 with large research libraries to digitize current and out-of-print works for its Google Books website.
Michael Boni, a lawyer for The Authors Guild, whose president is novelist-lawyer Scott Turow, said he asked the court on Friday to grant summary judgment in his client’s favor.
Among the libraries whose works have been scanned are those of Harvard University, Oxford University, Stanford University, the University of California, the University of Michigan, and the New York Public Library, Google has said.
Chin began overseeing the Google case as a trial judge and kept jurisdiction after he was elevated in 2010 to the federal appeals court in New York.
He granted class-action status to authors in May, and said groups representing photographers and graphic artists may also sue. A user-maintained wireless network, which covers over 2,500 square kilometres, provides users with free bandwidth to use for a variety of services. Eskom’s board has approved a new fleet renewal strategy based on the economic viability of a station as opposed to a purely age-based decommissioning of power stations.
The content is going to be available next month (in time for the new school year here in the US). The ebooks will be available for sale and rent, and the rental option is supposed to allow readers to pay only a fraction of the full cost of an ebook to rent for a period of up to six months. They'll support the same reading features as the current Google Play Books service, including search, bookmarks, highlighting, notes, and a “night mode”. Instead they are general nonfiction titles like for Dummies books, or classics that your English teacher might assign, or basic how to books.
All we can really say is that Google is more interested in content then they were last month, and more interested in enhanced ebooks than last month. Instead many of the categories that now make up the textbook section were listed separately in Google Play Books.
I've just learned that the new textbook section of Google Play Books now has the textbooks that Google promised some weeks ago. While the rental prices were lower than the price of a new paper textbook (by about 25%), the effective price of that paper textbook would likely end up being much less after you sold it back to the bookstore. The new IOS app now supports the rented textbooks and offers a new sepia reading mode as well as support for highlighting and note-taking in scanned pages books. For example, I couldn't get the Adobe Reader, Feedly, OverDrive, Kobo, Kindle, or Nook apps to work with Talkback.

For the sake of completeness, I also checked and can confirm that Instapaper and Pocket both offer this feature. The sound quality is decent, and if you install a TTS engine you can change the voice from the default to another.
This feature was a little clunky to configure, and each of the 3 times I used it I had to reconfigure the plugin. VRA is primarily a TTS app, not a reading app, and it was developed by the same company which created the FBReader plugin. Ivona sounds a lot better than the default voice which comes with the Android firmware or with FBReader (which has its own voice engine), and it's the one I've been using while testing the various reading apps. But with iOS8, apps that implement accessibility features properly can use Speak Screen, which is dead simple to use and works perfectly with Kindle app. Of course it only works if the PDF has text in it (not just scanned images), and the reading order is properly defined, and all of that. I can’t seem to find the settings to change the voice although I have the Ivona app installed.
Nate Hoffelde you were right that it was simply aFjtorres on Machine Supply is a Vending Machine Which Sells BooksCuration = "buy what I tell you to buy instead of what you really want". Each turn of the page would activate a projector located in the book’s spine that would display visuals. In fact, considering the massive number of patents the Mountain View company has, it’s actually very likely that we never see this materialize.
A lot of the ebooks currently listed in the textbook section were already in Google Play Books in those sections. That is an accessibility feature, which means that it does a heck of a lot more than simply TTS. Besides, many books are DRM protected, hence I can’t convert them to ePub to read on FBReader!!
Steve Prior on Machine Supply is a Vending Machine Which Sells BooksThe two comments that bemused me were, "Automating stock control - when a book is bought it sends a tweet"M.
The book would also have a speaker to play accompanying audio with each page turn and visual.
Books incorporate such things as Google Street View and music to incorporate an interactive element that is thematically relevant to the story the book is telling. This seems wildly unfeasible and impractical for now, as cost would prohibit the device from ever being sold at a profit.
That's great if you need an accessibility tool but not so great if you just want an ebook read to you. Nate Hoffelder on Machine Supply is a Vending Machine Which Sells BooksI didn't get the kiosk in Japan, but I did find the source for the other two.

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