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Google's Book Search: A Disaster for Scholars

Whether the Google books settlement passes muster with the U.S. District Court and the Justice Department, Google's book search is clearly on track to becoming the world's largest digital library. No less important, it is also almost certain to be the last one. Google's five-year head start and its relationships with libraries and publishers give it an effective monopoly: No competitor will be able to come after it on the same scale. Nor is technology going to lower the cost of entry. Scanning will always be an expensive, labor-intensive project. Of course, 50 or 100 years from now control of the collection may pass from Google to somebody else—Elsevier, Unesco, Wal-Mart. But it's safe to assume that the digitized books that scholars will be working with then will be the very same ones that are sitting on Google's servers today, augmented by the millions of titles published in the interim.

That realization lends a particular urgency to the concerns that people have voiced about the settlement —about pricing, access, and privacy, among other things. But for scholars, it raises another, equally basic question: What assurances do we have that Google will do this right?

More from Geoffrey Nunberg at the Chronicle of Higher Education.

Giants Collide: Amazon v. Google Books Settlement

Amazon's expected objection to the Google Books Settlement landed in court yesterday and suggests the deal is "arguably unlawful."

"[I]t constitutes price fixing by horizontal competitors—namely, the Rightsholders, who are agreeing collectively on a mechanism for setting the highest possible prices to be charged for their works," argues the 49-page document, which was filed four days ahead of the September 4 deadline for written comments.

Amazon is part of the Microsoft-Yahoo-Internet Archive coalition, which is collaborating on preparing objections to the settlement. The coalition, called the Open Book Alliance, will be filing its own objection this week, while some individual parties, like Amazon, are also filing their own briefs. MediaBistro reports.

Trust Us With Your Personal Information

During a meeting last week with Google's Co-Founder Sergey Brin I asked him about a popular a question posed by several of our blog readers: Should we trust Google with our personal information? Brin told NPR that he can't see any reason that people shouldn't trust Google.

Full piece here.

Dire Warning to Publishers: The End of Hardbacks

According to the French publishing group Hachette: Hardback books could be killed off if Amazon’s e-books and Google’s digital library force publishers to slash prices, warns Arnaud Nourry, Hachette's chief executive.

Mr Nourry said unilateral pricing by Google, Amazon and other e-book retailers such as Barnes & Noble could destroy publishers’ profits (not to mention what is happening to bookstores).

He said publishers were “very hostile” to Amazon’s pricing strategy – over which the online retailer failed to consult publishers – to charge $9.99 for all its e-books in the US. He also pointed to plans by Google to put millions of out-of-copyright books online for public use.

“On the one hand, you have millions of books for free where there is no longer an author to pay and, on the other hand, there are very recent books, bestsellers at $9.99, which means that all the rest will have to be sold at between zero and $9.99,” Mr Nourry said.

Mr Nourry’s comments come as analysts predict a growth spurt for the still-niche electronic reader market, with wireless devices from Sony, Plastic Logic and others due to compete with the Kindle.

Financial Times reports.

Google Book Search? Try Google Library

Is Google ready--or willing--to become a library?

Librarians, academics, and privacy advocates will gather Friday on the campus of the University of California at Berkeley to discuss the implications of Google's proposed settlement with publishers that, if implemented, will allow it to bring millions of books online.

As Google Settlement Hits Homestretch, Libraries Push for Changes

With the Google Book Search Settlement’s September 4 deadline to object or file comments with the court fast approaching, libraries have ramped up efforts to have the deal altered. This week, the Urban Libraries Council (ULC), a member organization of medium and large public libraries called for changes in the settlement plan, as did New York State librarian Bernard Margolis, in a separate open letter to leaders in the library community.

Googlebooks: Innovation and the Future of the Book

Interesting question from Karen Coyle: The question surrounding the settlement is: are authors (as defined by the Author's Guild) served by the Google/AAP settlement -- yes or no? The bigger question, What is the future of the book in our civilization? is not on the table. Yet, in the end, that may be the question that is answered by this settlement, whether that outcome serves authors or not.

You there -- Anonymous -- You Could Be Fingered by Google

A blogger stripped of her anonymity by the US courts has said she plans to sue Google for handing over her real identity.

Rosemary Port, a 29-year-old fashion student from New York, has said she will file a $15m (£9m) lawsuit against the internet giant after it complied with an order from a US court to reveal that she was behind the vitriolic "Skanks in NYC" blog.

The case erupted last week after the Manhattan Supreme Court ruled that Google must hand over the identity of the writer, who had targeted 36-year-old model Liskula Cohen online and called her a "psychotic, lying, whoring... skank".

Cohen had filed a lawsuit demanding that the writer's identity be revealed, an argument that judge Joan Madden agreed with. Guardian UK , Salon, New York Post report.

Want the site? It's now available.

Google 1, France 0

French pride took a knock today with news that the National Library is giving up a four-year fight for a Gallic riposte to Google and bowing to the might of the Californian search giant.

"Google has won", said the front-page headline in La Tribune newspaper. It reported that the Bibliothèque Nationale de France (BNF) is on the verge of a deal under which Google will add its stocks to its controversial digital library. More from Times Online.

Google is using print ads

Google is using billboards to promote Google Apps (those online collaboration tools like email, calendars, mobile access, etc.) to business and comparing their products directly with Microsoft.

I hope these aren't those new super-bright lighted billboards that outshine the brake lights of the cars ahead of me on the highway.

The photos look like printed billboards.

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