Tuesday, January 30, 2007

Google's In The Library

Jeffrey Toobin's generally favorable profile of Google Books hits magazine racks in this week's New Yorker. Aside from having been fortunate (?) enough to have visited Google HQ during pajama day, Toobin reports on Google's plans to scan every book ever to have been in print -- by hand no less. They believe it can be accomplished inside of 20 years.

His take on the legal wrangling.... It's all part of a protracted negotiation process. Deep pocketed Google actually wants to strike a deal with publishers and copyright holders. The company's acknowledgment that writers have financial rights will create a precedent, and leave Google the only one in the House with the ability to pay. It's estimated that paying the bill could cost Google $800 million. The bill will be painful but not at all insurmountable for a company with a cap in the billions.

The publishing industry newsletter goes on the defense, taking Toobin to task for offenses large and small....

We're thus supposed to believe that Google would pay more than Microsoft could? That Amazon can't handle this for nearly all books that people want to read now? That the world needs multiple search-engine libraries of every book ever written? And, grim, panicked, slow and desperate that we are, publishers' own extensive efforts to develop digital distribution of their books on their own terms--for indexing by any engine and access through a myriad of sites--doesn't get mentioned all.

My experience, though limited, is that publishers have been slow to adapt to digital technologies, especially on the promotions front. It's been just a couple of years since promotional websites became widespread. And that's about all I've seen thus far.

Ask A Ninja This
It's being reported that the popular video site Ask A Ninja has a deal in place with Federated Media to be paid $300,000 if they keep their numbers up. It's said to be an upfront against expected ad revenues. There's apparently some gold in them there video hills.