Everyone working in the book industry should know about this. If you haven’t been following what’s been happening in the eBook market, you should start as soon as possible. This article is not about eBooks or eReaders, but about how their use is about to explode onto the mainstream market.
Google has started scanning in millions of books from libraries all around the U.S. in its first moves to take on Amazon in the ebook market and enable Google users to search through the content of books online. It already has millions more ebooks than Amazon, whose stock is in the mere hundreds of thousands. This has resulted in three years of lawsuits and a subsequent agreement with the members of the Association of American Publishers and the Author’s Guild in the U.S. in an attempt to control the terms of this mass digitization. This is a link to the press release about the agreement:http://www.ifrro.org/upload/documents/FINAL%20Authors%20Publishers%20Google%20Press%20Release%20102808.pdf
The lawsuits challenged Google’s plan to digitize, search and show snippets of in-copyright books and to share digital copies with libraries without the explicit permission of the copyright owner.
Google now has the ability to make money out of millions of books that Amazon can’t access simply because they’re out of print. Under the terms of the agreement, Google is to pay $125 million into a fund to set up a Books Rights Registry. Holders worldwide of U.S. copyrights can register their works with this new Book Rights Registry and receive compensation from institutional subscriptions, book sales, ad revenues and other possible revenue models, as well as a cash payment if their works have already been digitized.
But the holder has to opt in to exercise their rights and actively take control of access to their books. Work will be put online unless the creator demands otherwise. A simplification would be to think of Google as a library system that is getting its books for free and operating a PLR scheme as the only compensation.
Google dreams of a world where all information is accessible online, and everyone uses global online software on central servers instead of individual applications on our hard drives. It obviously hopes to provide these facilities. Google’s new phone, the Android, represents the company’s first real foray into hardware (http://code.google.com/android/). On top of competing with the iPod, it could also include the basis for a new (if very small) e-reader, which could be very interesting indeed.