Tuesday, June 2, 2009

Google books might be evil

~From What Would Google Do? by Jeff Jarvis, pages 143:

Publishers treat Google as an enemy for scanning books and making them searchable (though you can't read them all cover-to-cover at Google.com). Instead, publishers should embrace Google and the internet, for now via search and links more readers can discover authors and what they say and develop relationships and perhaps buy their books. Authors can reach the huge audience that never goes into a bookstore. Publishers and authors can find new ways to bring books into the conversation. Books can live longer and spread their messages wider. I don't have the answers to books' challenges. But I know we must be willing to reinvent the form. The internet won't destory books. It will improve them. Take Coelho's advice to publishers and authors: "Don't be afraid."

For some reason, I'm not so comfortable with what Google is doing with books here. Some problems I see:

1) Am I allowed to go into a library or bookstore and just start scanning, copying, and saving books, even if just for my own personal use? Isn't that against copyright? Why should Google get to do it if we all don't get to do it?

2) If I write or publish a book, why should Google make any money off of it? Just because they have the audiences and the search tools? All right, that might not be a bad deal, but again, if Google gets to do it, do we all?



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