Apparently Google realized there is no money to be had in free ebooks, and decided it was time to start selling them instead:
Google Makes a Play for a Piece of the E-Books Market
It sounds to me like they are a little late to the game, with nothing to set them apart from other ebooks sellers. The prices — $9.99 to $12.99 — aren't very compelling, in my opinion, and the author of the article even says that the site "doesn't look much different from the Apple or Amazon e-book sites" and that the ebooks are "nothing fancy — no bells and whistles." Ebooks purchased from Google will open on all readers on the market except for the Kindle.
Not that I think ebooks need bells and whistles, but the price is an important factor in my decision to buy. I haven't yet paid anything more than $9.99, and probably won't — there is one I really want for $10.99, and I've been vacillating on it so much that the price will probably come down before I will make up my mind. But the vast majority of the ebooks I buy are in the $4 to $8 range — only on rare occasions have I paid as much as $9.99. It just seems like too much for an ebook.
It will be interesting to see how Google fares in the ebook market!