“[Y]ou’ll also have access to many more books than you ever knew existed.”

2 04 2010

It seems very strange to me that I found the best thing that I’ve ever read on the Google Books settlement while reading Gawker, but there it is, at what I think is Gawker Media’s science fiction site.

It’s a long piece, and still a little complicated (as the Google Books settlement is really complicated), but this is the part that explains my support:

It may become harder to find books by your favorite authors, but you’ll also have access to many more books than you ever knew existed.

I’m willing to take that chance. I work at a college with a small library. I can’t get what I want to browse quickly. Google Books is a Godsend for me and all the students who I make write research papers. Even better:

Out of the roughly 12 million books that Google has digitized, 2 million are in the public domain. That means they were published before 1923, and have fallen out of copyright….Now you can read large parts of those books for free – and for a subscription fee you can read them all.

The immediate pre-1923 period is my era. Digitizing those works was an enormous public service. Therefore, I won’t begrudge Google some money as I suspect that they could never get back what they put in from digitizing all that paper.

Of course, the most controversial parts of the settlement deal with works in copyright. I happen to be an author and would love to collect digital revenue from my books all the way into my old age. However, I think the Author’s Guild settlement with Google Books covers my interests well.

Now I’m off to put in for my cut of the settlement before I forget.


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