Geeks With Blogs


Bill Evjen's Blog Code, Life and Community


I blogged years ago and voiced my disappointment of Google taking books, scanning them, databasing the contents of the books, and then making these books available to end users in "chucks". I am a computer book author and have written 18 books (two more on the way) and I wrote in my old blog post about why I didn't care for this move and how it really hurt me as an author. Back then, I wrote about the issue:

"The problem is (at least for publishers and authors) is that let's say there is someone trying to figure out how to use the new XmlDataSource control and they enter that word into Google Print and get directed to my book to a specific page where this is discussed. The reader on Google can then scroll through the couple of pages reading up on this control and then they are done. Granted, they didn't scroll through the entire book, but they are able to get what they need from a publication without needing to purchase this publication.

I do like people using my books to learn and to help them do their jobs, but at the same time - it takes me 4-5 months to write a book ... it is a ALOT of work and I would hope that people would purchase a title I have written instead of pulling what they need from it from Google for free. You don't get paid much as an author, but it sure is nice to get a bit of a reward for all the hard work."

John Wiley stepped up to the plate and joined in on the lawsuit against Google for copyright infringement. Google was arguing that they should be allowed to do this for the end user as they are only showing excepts and not the entire book. This move, if it had gone through, is quite detrimental to authors and in turn to end users. In the end, Google lost the case and will have to pay $125 million USD for the past infringements. Side note to my editor: "How much of this do I get?" ;)

In any case, a deal has been established to create a registry that will still allow Google to proceed with their plans, but charge end users for the "chucks" of books that they view. Some argue that this will change how people will consume books and a move to more digital consumption of books. It defiantly is an interesting notion.

Related Posts:

Business Week: Google Settles with Authors
Blog Post from Oct 20 2005: John Wiley & Pearson Sue Google

Posted on Wednesday, October 29, 2008 11:22 AM | Back to top

Comments on this post: Google Loses - Authors Win!

# re: Google Loses - Authors Win!
Requesting Gravatar...
" ...let's say there is someone trying to figure out how to use the new XmlDataSource "

While I understand your position as an author, (we all want to be paid for our work) if the information is helpful and well written I would be more disposed to purchase the rest of the book. If your book info doesn't come up in the search there are 97,300 other results for XmlDataSource. So, in that regard the information you propose isn't *that* valuable considering the supply of information out there.

My book case bleeds red from the amount of Wrox books I own. Those were purchases made for study and review and were based on peer reviews or scanning at the book store. The latter in my view is similar to what I would get from google. I can read all I want for free at Borders.

I respectfuly disagree and think more access helps consumers and sellers.
Left by cweeks on Oct 29, 2008 11:58 AM

# re: Google Loses - Authors Win!
Requesting Gravatar...
I can understand that point. This program with Google Print is going to continue, but now they will appropriately get the publisher and the author compensated for publishing these nuggets on the Internet.

Browsing books in a bookstore is primarily done for considerations on purchasing the item. Browsing on Google Print is primarily done to get the information you need for immediate use. The bookstore browsing - also - can only occur on a set scale.

I have had people come to me and say they got their company to buy my book because they needed one aspect of my book.

In the end - the main point is that what Google was doing was great the end users around the world - but bad for authors. The correction now proposed will be good for all.
Left by Bill Evjen on Oct 29, 2008 2:18 PM

# re: Google Loses - Authors Win!
Requesting Gravatar...
As both a computer bookseller and an end-user, I can see it both ways.

As an end-user, if I can read even part of a book online, I might have found what I needed to know, and therefore not buy the book, OR, I might find the book so interesting that I want to buy it and read the whole thing.

As a bookseller, I think it can help sales if the end-user can get a partial glimpse of what is inside the book before buying it. Is the book written at a level that they can understand? Is it too basic - or too advanced - for their current skill level? Is it talking theory, or giving actual code examples?

On the other hand, they, too, may find what they need to know and NOT buy the book.

So whether or not it is a good practice to have the book, or parts of it, available online is kind of hard to say.

But, as far as I'm concerned, the issue here is that Google broke the law by scanning and publicizing copyrighted materials without permission. And now they are getting a minor reprimand for their actions - but get to continue doing it! Is this how we are supposed to run our businesses?

BTW, I heard that the payment to the authors might be about $60.

Left by Jill on Oct 29, 2008 6:57 PM

# re: Google Loses - Authors Win!
Requesting Gravatar...
I believe Google's move is more a symptom of a larger problem. Books are largely overvalued. The average tech book goes for 25 to 50 bucks depending on your discount.

Lets say you sell 5000 books at 25 dollars. (125,000 dollars) Quite a payoff for a 5 months of your time.

Now your defense would be hey wait a minute buddy I only get 5% of that or whatever your deal is.

This means the publishing process is terribly inefficent. Whats valuable about a book is your knowledge and the technical review process.

Everyone in the system is pay way too much for the distribution channel. In 20 years when we realize hey why do we print huge bound books there will be a fall out.

Our current problem is publishers are greedy and authors do not have the means to do it indy. (without a publisher)
Left by Josh on Oct 30, 2008 9:12 AM

# re: Google Loses - Authors Win!
Requesting Gravatar...
Is this not the MP3-nization of books too ?

The internet & technology surely push boundaries...
Left by Dapxin on Nov 24, 2008 5:37 PM

Your comment:
 (will show your gravatar)

Copyright © Bill Evjen | Powered by: