Less Than Five Percent of Titles Are Available
Tim O’Reilly, namesake chief of the tech publisher O’Reilly, wrote a great post last Friday (Nov. 4) about the widespread unavailability of books on the market, and how the Google Print projects may alleviate that problem. O’Reilly also criticizes his brethren for their resistance in this matter.
If the American Association of Publishers and Author’s Guild were to prevail [in their lawsuits], the AAP is asking us to believe that publishers are willing to unearth the contracts for more than 25 million books, track down the authors, and get their permission to opt them in, and this despite the fact that 25 million books didn’t sell even one copy in 2004. Try to be serious. There is no economic incentive for publishers to opt in books in what I’ve called “the twilight zone.” This [opt in] approach will make the creation of a comprehensive search engine for books virtually impossible.
O’Reilly also gives cost estimates for the Google Print Library Project, and wonders whether publishers would be willing to make a comparable investment in making available backlist and out of print titles.
Perhaps most convincingly, O’Reilly points to his company’s profitable involvement in Safari, an online library of IT books that allows subscribers the ability to search nearly 3,000 titles available in the library, browse books by category, or download chapters for viewing offline. Essentially, Safari is iTunes for technical books; it existed before iTunes became iTunes for music.
It is interesting that the American Association of Publishers, the lobbying organization for the literary division of Big Content, has been positioning itself as David against Google’s Goliath. The Washington Times editorial cited below is the second time I’ve seen Schroeder a “pity poor us” stance: when AAP announced its lawsuit in late October, Schroeder said of Google co-founders Sergey Brin and Larry Page, “They look like two sweet Stanford students, but in this case we’re David and they’re Goliath.”
O’Reilly Radar. Oops … Only 4% of Titles Are Being Commercially Exploited. Nov. 4, 2005.
Pat Schroeder and Bob Barr. Reining in Google. The Washington Times. Nov. 3, 2005.
Nick Schulz. Don’t Fear Google. Forbes.com. Nov. 3, 2005.
Kottke.org. Book Author to Her Publishing Company: Your Lawsuit is Not Helping Me or My Book. Oct. 20, 2005.
CopyCense™: K. Matthew Dames on the intersection of business, law and technology. A business venture of Seso Digital LLC.