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Google 'Books' now available at India Play Store

Search giant Google has introduced its 'Books' section to the Indian market and users can now download e-books from a collection of more than 4 million titles including 'thousands' by Indian authors. Pricing starts from as little as Rs 49 and there are 'free' books available to ensure better reader engagement. Last we checked there were 10 categories on display (such as biographies & memoirs, business & economics, children's books, cooking, fiction & literature and more), each featuring various sub-categories. One can also preview some of these books before buying.

"It's easy to find great Indian authors such as Amish Tripathi, Devdutt Pattanaik and APJ Abdul Kalam, plus international bestsellers from the world's largest e-bookstore," says an official blog post about the latest initiative.

"We're happy to make it even easier for all Indian book lovers to discover and buy whatever they want to read, whether that's the next bestseller, a new release from their favourite author or a well-loved classic. Whether you're a bookworm or casual reader, we hope you find something great to read on Google Play," the post adds.

However, you need to install the Play Books app (available for Android & iOS platforms) to download and read the e-books on your handset. Since the books are stored on the cloud, users must have internet connection to access those. But just like Kindle, the Play Books reader app remembers where you left off and opens that specific page when you start reading again.

Interestingly, Google is not yet offering its music and movie content on the Google Play store in the country although tech giant Apple has already launched its iTunes Store in India in December 2012.

Google's move comes almost six months after Amazon launched its Kindle Store in India. But there won't be any lack of competition as popular Indian retail chain Landmark and Indian e-commerce major Flipkart are also selling e-books for some time now. Landmark, a TATA enterprise that started in 1987 as books and music retailer but later expanded into other product categories, launched an e-books section on its website in September 2012 and claimed it was the first Indian retail chain to do so. Flipkart came up with its e-book store in November last year and one can buy those at its digital media store Flyte. The e-books downloaded from the store can only be read using the Flyte app.

As far as pricing goes, Google Play Books will cost you more than the other players in the market. For instance, The Oath of the Vayuputras by Amish Tripathi is priced at Rs 189 on Google Play but you can get it for Rs 178 on Flipkart's Flyte and for Rs 180 at Landmark.

Yesterday, Google also announced the launch of Google Business Photos programme in India – a GoogleMaps project which enables users to take a virtual tour of a business establishment, created by using Street View technology.

Watch this space as we bring you more activities from Google India.

(Edited by Sanghamitra Mandal)

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