If you are into origami, then perhaps you have been to the Origami bulletin board at: www.thekhans.me.uk/phpBB2.
Someone posted a question/commentary about Google Book Search on Nov 30th. This lead to a number of interesting replies, and the inevitable “being able to search through a few pages means complete theft!” reply. If people really feel that way, I understand- if you’re an author there’s no problem with you just having your book removed. But to give those responses without thinking about the actual benefits of such a system is a mistake, in my opinion.
Anyway, here’s my reply, which I am posting here because I think it deserves repeating:
I don’t buy into the “this promotes theft” thing at all, especially with regards to origami. Let’s face the obvious here- origami is a niche segment, which isn’t commanding high numbers for book sales. This is fine, and to be expected for anything that is farther down the long tail; I wouldn’t expect books on making wooden duck models or building model train landscapes to be “bestsellers” either.
but what tools like this do is enable us (you know, the purchasing public) to actually FIND books we want, that are on topics we’re looking for. I know that the Google book search tool has already lead me to 2 different books on a topic I was searching on, both of which I purchased through the handy link it provides directly to a seller of that book! one of them was a $48 tome on geometric dissection, which I wouldn’t have even thought of purchasing if I hadn’t been able to peruse a few pages in the general area of my search request.
This is fundamentally no different than being able to look through any book in a book store- you wouldn’t buy a book without even looking at it in the store, would you? unless you know what you’re looking for ahead of time, how could you know the book would be worth buying? or even be relevant to the topic you need to know about?
My long-winded and aimless point is that I think this really is a positive tool for all the hundreds of thousands of smaller authors out there, who are able to put their book in front of more eyes now. They don’t get marketing support or anything else for their books, so anything that gives them more exposure to a reading and purchasing public is a good thing. Certainly if they disagree with that (although all the writers I know are enthusiastic about this product) then they can contact Google and have their books de-listed.
Let’s not knock a tool that helps connect the buying public with the product, OK?