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(Pocket-lint) - Google has a new initiative called Editions at Play - and it's basically a bookstore selling a new type of digital book that can only be read from a browser (Chrome, preferably, via a smartphone).

There are two books available at launch. They're not free or downloadable. Google is describing these books as things that "cannot be printed". Who knows what that means, but we're assuming the internet giant is pushing the idea that these books aren't typical ebooks as well as something totally different from paperbacks, obviously. It's an interesting concept, for sure.

If you'd like to know more about it, we've explained everything you need to know, including where you can find and read these books and how much they cost and what's next for Editions at Play.

Editions at Play: What is it?

Google’s Creative Labs has been developing - with help from London-based book publisher Visual Editions - a new type of digital book meant to be viewed from smartphones and tablets. This initiative, called Editions at Play, has been in the works for nearly two years and is now launching as a bookstore. Google is marketing it as an "experiment in unprintable books".

In an interview with Buzzfeed, T.L. Uglow, a creative director at Google, said Google Creative Labs staffers were interested in defining what makes a book a book, and during that process, they realised the web allows a book's pages not to be tied together anymore. So, they set out on a journey to create an ebook in which you don't simply flip pages to progress in the story.

Obviously this results in a non-standard format, so we're assuming Google views that format as unprintable.

Editions at Play: Which books are available at launch?

Editions at Play so far includes a team of six or so designers, programmers, writers, and artists - and these are the new digital books they've managed to work on during the last 10 months (they're also now available for your viewing pleasure from the web via a mobile device):

  • Entrances & Exits by Reif Larsen: This story involves Google Streetview, because the reader basically navigates through a street-level view of a map in order to discover new pages to read. Google calls this a “book that travels through the world.”
  • The Truth About Cats & Dogs by Sam Riviere and Joe Dunthorne: This story consists of two diaries by fictional artists trying to collaborate but eventually falling out. They are displayed on a single screen, and the reader switches between the two and has the option of choosing which narrator to follow as well as which character has the last word.

Editions at Play: How much are the books?

The two books available at launch cost $4.25 each and are not downloadable.

Editions at Play: How do you find and buy the books?

  • Go to the Editions at Play website from a browser on a device
  • Click on any of the two just-released titles presented
  • View the description, author information, and check compatibility
  • If you want to try the book first, click the Try button
  • If you want the book straightaway, click the Buy button
  • You'll need to select your Google account and confirm the purchase

Each book has its own device requirements. Google recommends using a Chrome browser or Safari browser from an iPhone 4S (iOS 8 and up) or Android device (KitKat and up), for instance, for the best experience.

Editions at Play: What's next?

Google said more books are coming soon. In fact, Google's Editions at Play website indicates it has two more books in the pipeline. They're called Strata ("the book that unfolds") and All This Rotting ("the book that loses its memory"), and they're due to release this spring.

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Writing by Elyse Betters. Originally published on 10 February 2016.