The publishing industry is going through interesting times. Good old Gutenberg must be turning in his grave. Indeed, it is a stimulating experience to see the North-American publishing industry going digital without really going digital. The latest event in this saga is the Google Print initiative whereby, through Google, publishers will allow readers to flip through the pages of newly released books (they say roughly 20% of the book). The basic idea is to give readers a better sense of whether they should go for the book, that is buy it. Google's idea is to combine the viewing of a given page with their Adsense contextual advertising program. Publsihers will then receive a share of the ad revenues based on the number of Adsense clicks that we, readers, gonna trigger.
Interesting! This mimics what we're allowed to do for free in a bookstore (where sometimes we can even enjoy a sofa and a cup of coffee (Starbucks?)), that is making our mind about the book while sipping coffee and flipping through pages. We can do so even if we don't buy the book and decide to leave the bookstore without opening our wallet. The clever trick here is an indirect re-monetization of this free right: Publishers gonna be paid when we flip through the pages AND click on Adsense boxes.
Now, I have some questions that spring to my mind. What's the deal for authors? Will they get their cut? Is this to be considered as a derivative right to be compensated for. Next is the question of why Google takes the burden of scanning the books instead of relying upon the available electronic files that are nowadays provided by publishers.
Mmmmhhhh!!! Is this Big Brother striking again? Are we going to leave even more footprints? Frankly I do not know what to think even though Google claims that they are good guys with no intention of profiling us whatsoever.
Do you really believe them?