Publishers know they’re in a tough place when it comes to Google’s Book Search and Library initiatives. For all their posturing about copyright violations and compensation, the truth is that Google is doing the publishing industry a huge favor.
Here’s how I see it. First, there are a lot of books out there. All I need to do is look around my desk to prove this. There are more books published each year than anyone realizes. Most of these books fly so far under the radar, they don’t even register. This costs the publisher money, hurts the author, and don’t forget the trees. Pulping books doesn’t do much to clean the air.
Second, even if a consumer (I’ll use myself as an example) is aware of many of the books being published, there is no way I can discover what’s inside them, short of living in a book distribution warehouse. My local bookstores cannot keep up. Amazon’s program to “Look Inside” is great if I know what I’m looking for, but if I’m doing research, I’m using Google. I am. Sometimes maybe I go to Yahoo!, but mostly I’ve segregated things in my mind: Yahoo!, news; Google, research.