Via boing-boing this monring, I found an editorial by boing-boing co-editor Xeni Jardin in the LA Times titled “You Authors are Saps to Resist Googling.” The particular authors/saps in question are members of the Authors Guild, which is a group that represents author (about 8,000, according to Jardin). BTW, if you go to the Authors Guild web site, you can see plenty of links about why they are fightin’ mad at Google.
I think Jardin is totally right for at least three reasons. First, Google’s plan isn’t to show an entire book as the result of a search; rather, they’re just going to show a portion of the book relevant to a search. It isn’t going to be possible (apparently) to just get the whole book.
Second, the VAST majority of writers/authors that I know really want readers to read their writing; they aren’t as concerned with how many books they can (or really, can’t sell). Writers write for a lot of reasons, but one of the reasons I write is because I like the attention, and I for one have gotten a lot more attention from things I’ve published on the web than I anything I have published in traditional print.
Third, putting information about books online– including big chunks of content– helps sell them. As Jardin writes:
Perhaps the Authors Guild members would prefer that search companies pay them for the right to build book search services. If Google has its way, their logic goes, we’ll lose control over who can copy our work, and we’ll lose sales. But Internet history proves the opposite is true. Any product that is more easily found online can be more easily sold.
Amazon.com’s “look inside” feature works similarly. And, surprise, the Authors Guild has squabbled with it too.