Barbara Theroux has joined forces with the digital cloud. On Monday, Dec. 6, Missoula's Fact & Fiction began offering digital books on the bookstore's website through Google Editions, Google's new e-book venture that allows customers to download from a selection of thousands of titles to their virtual library. The "digital cloud" operating system works like e-mail in that readers can access their e-library from almost any device, including e-readers like Nook and Sony Reader, as well as iPads, cell phones and any computer.
"The big thing that Google e-books does is it removes the device from the conversation," says Theroux. "The storage of the actual book is all done on the cloud, so you can start reading it on your cell phone and then when you are at home you can read it on your computer."
Unlike Amazon's Kindle—which only works for books purchased through Amazon's site—Google Edition levels the playing field for independent bookstores wanting to get into the digital book market. Major publishers producing e-books establish the price so all bookstores partnered with Google are equal and people can still support their local bookstore.
Theroux first started thinking about offering e-books in February when she heard about Google Edition at the American Book Association's (ABA) Winter Institute in San Jose, Calif. In early summer, at the Book Expo America conference in New York City, the ABA officially announced its partnership with Google, and independent booksellers began working on contracts.
Theroux says the idea of e-books hasn't always been an easy pill to swallow. Last year, several publishers announced advance copies for bookstores would only come in e-book format and they would disappear after the book's publication date. For Theroux, that meant not only buying an e-book device, but also trying to speedily finish reading her advance copies.
"That sent me into a panic," she says.
The threat didn't come true, but Theroux says she decided to get more comfortable with the idea of digital books. She says e-books have many positives: people with vision problems can adjust copy size, and the devices are more convenient for travelers.
"I'm still dragging my heels on a lot of the computer technology that's out there in the world," she laughs. "I borrowed a friend's Kindle and it wasn't the bad experience that I was hoping it would be. But it still wasn't the same as having a book in my hands."