Google Books for the Kindle

Whilst the BLTC editorial calendar has been somewhat slow lately, I’ve been active launching another vehicle that opens up access to all of the hundreds of thousands (or possibly millions) of public domain books scanned by Google. For close to a year now, they have been making these available not for download, not only as a PDF of the original scanned images (in other words, as a graphic image of the text), but as a intelligent but brute-force scan into an epub format file.

epub is probably the coming standard, but for now (why …?) it is not supported by Kindle, nor has Google “reached out” and provided support for the native Kindle mobi format. Another boring standards war by two internet colossi who clearly see each other as primary competitors in the ebook space (whatever happened to Google’s epub business anyway …?).

Anyway, visit www.retroread.com, and you will be able to create an account through which you may upload any
Google epub, and have it converted and forwarded directly to your Kindle. It’s pretty neat! The quality of the converted book can vary greatly depending on the quality of Google’s OCR conversion. On average, generally readable.

The conversion technology used to power the site is, unsurprisingly, Kovid Goyal’s Calibre engine, instrumented into a web service. The hosting of the conversion engine is, btw, Amazon’s very own “Elastic Compute Cloud” — if this gets really big, I can scale it to infinity! (A friend suggested I host the front end using Google’s app engine, but that would have required learning Python. It would have completed the symmetry, however.)

Anyway, if you find this post, please check out www.retroread.com!

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