31 August 2006

Books Be-Googled

I've not really been paying much attention to the Google Book Search saga. Essentially, I'm totally in favour or what they're up to, and regard publishers' whines about copyright infringement as pathetic and wrong-headed. I'm delighted that Digital Code of Life has been scanned and can be searched.

It seems obvious to me that scanning books will lead to increased sales, since one of the principal obstacles to buying a book is being uncertain whether it's really what you want. Being able to search for a few key phrases is a great way to try before you buy.

Initially, I wasn't particularly excited by the news that Google Book Search now allows public domain books to be downloaded as images (not as text files - you need Project Gutenberg for that.) But having played around with it, I have to say that I'm more impressed: being able to see the scan of venerable and often obscure books is a delightful experience.

It is clearly an important step in the direction of making all knowledge available online. Let's hope a few publishers will begin to see the project in the same light, and collaborate with the thing rather than fight it reflexively.


Pedro Beltrao said...

...then they find out a way to print books for free with some personalized ads printed for you and they send the books on demand to your address in two or three working days.
Public domain books might make a small profit for Google and the other ones profit goes to the author.
Google Books :) publish your own

Glyn Moody said...

Don't say it too loud - they might hear you.