"By adding support for ePub downloads we're hoping to make these books more accessible by helping people around the world to find and read them in more places," said Product Manager Brandon Badger on the company's blog.
He added that "because ePub is a free, open standard supported by a growing ecosystem of digital reading devices, works you download from Google Books as ePubs won't be tied to or locked into a particular device. We'll also continue to make available these books in the popular PDF format so you can see images of the pages just as they appear in the printed book."
Combined with last week's announcement by Sony that it is switching to ePub raises the stakes in digital book publishing showdown between Amazon, with its proprietary technology and Kindle eReader, and just about everyone else.
Reports continue to circulate about Apple's impending launch of an eReader; if Apple also supports ePub, Amazon will almost have to switch strategies going forward.
The free downloads from Google Books are available here.
Aug. 18 Amazon v. Sony, et.al., in War of the eBook Giants "The recent decision by Sony to drop its proprietary publishing platform in favor of the open ePub platform for digital books represents a turning point in the rapid development of the eBook publishing industry..."