Sunday, October 30, 2005

Google Print: Authors vs. Publishers

This "news" is two weeks old, but we're going somewhere with this...

To recap: Google Print is starting to scan the archives of libraries, which will provide the libraries with a digital back-up and provide Google users with searchable excerpts of the books. The publishing industry is pissed, because they think this will cause people to read books one snippet at a time at Google instead of buying copies, so they are suing Google. As Lawrence Lessig at Wired put it, "No one would have thought a library needed permission to create a card catalog."

Meghann Marco wants her book indexed in the hope that Google Print will drum up new readers for her work. Simon & Schuster told her no; they seem to think that they are doing her some kind of favor by keeping her book scarce. And besides, what would book publicists do for a living if Google drummed up new readers for free?

Of course, most of us flip through a book, whether physically in a store or with the help of Amazon's Look Inside/Search Inside feature, before buying it. Search Inside, btw, increases sales of books by 9%, according to Jeff Bezos. commenters make some great points beyond this, including an author who says she wouldn't dare to demand that her publisher put her book on Google, because she is certain that if she pisses off her publisher, she'll never get a book deal again. This reveals political savvy enough to survive in the real world, which we are glad to see in an author.

So what can be done if authors cannot win any ground against the publishers?

No comments:

Post a Comment