Now that more pressing issues from the US have been settled (yay yay yay), I’m turning back to the other big news from America: Google Book Search v. Authors Guild. for an excellent collection of blogosphere comments go to
Is Google now emerging as the heir-apparent to Long Tail book vending? With Amazon’s proprietary formatted e-books, and the inability for anyone outside of the US to own a Kindle, in some markets (i.e. Canada) the answer is a resounding yes. Not only that—the revenue potential comes from an almost free source (minus rights-holder royalties) in that a lot of these books are out of print and include no capital costs to distribute.
On first glance, this is troubling as it gives Google a de facto monopoly on books that wouldn’t be eBooks without…Google. Not only does this give other eTailers the jim jams, it inspires apprehension when we consider this huge amount of information will not always be in the hands of the ‘don’t be evil’ crew currently in charge.
But then again, this information wouldn’t even be online without the work of Google and it’s not like digitizing it wipes it from the face of this earth. Information is not yet being barricaded into Google HQ and hardcopies are not being destroyed.
Also, the actual public pick up of the information (books don’t go out of print at the peak of their demand cycle) is yet to seen. With academics like Anita Elberse and others critiquing the long tail theory, and the vast amount of information available to all web users, maybe the demand for these long tail books is going to be the real measure of how important this decision actually is.